Jan 312013

Chuck Smith pictured on January 7, 2012A while back I wrote an article about the creation of a “new” Calvary Chapel, one created to facilitate the transition of power from Chuck Smith to a board of elders and regional overseers.

How’s that working?

It’s not…in fact according to sources, the organization doesn’t officially exist.

The non-profit paperwork has yet to be filed.


The reality of the matter is that Calvary Chapel is in a state of conflict and chaos at the top level and that conflict and chaos is the purposeful creation of it’s founder as he refuses to let go of his throne.

The portrait of Chuck Smith presented to the public has always been one of the smiling, warm, pastoral, Pastor Chuck…the one seen behind the scenes has often been one of a jealous, hot tempered patriarch who manipulates people to keep hold of both his power and the huge assets generated by Calvary Chapel.

His greatest power comes from his ability to use the emotional attachments that young men without fathers developed with him, even though those young men are now in their fifties and sixties.

He uses the threat of rejection to quash any disagreement….and it has worked with clock like efficiency through the years.

Another  technique he has mastered over the years, is to let all sides of a conflict believe they have his imprimatur and watch them fight it out as he does what he pleases.

In this instance he has given his approval to the creation of the new organization…while telling traditionalists opposed to it that in reality he is with them.

He was telling the traditionalists the truth…in fact he brought back brother Paul to construct a “hit list” of dove holders he wants expunged from the movement.

They won’t be expunged for moral or ethical reasons, but for thinking outside the “distinctives” or speaking out of turn at all.

This follows on the heels of an email blast sent out to all the senior pastors informing them that if they criticize the movement on blogs they can basically get out and stay out.

He has facilitated the transfer of the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Corporation (and it’s massive assets)… to his son Jeff, not to Brian Broderson., his supposed successor and son-in-law whom he allegedly undercuts at every turn.

For background on Jeff, see the Christianity Today and L.A. Times articles on the Calvary Satellite Network and Calvary Chapel.

They do not paint a portrait of an eminent churchman…

I have written on these pages before that upon Smiths departure that the remaining movement would fracture…it’s already happening.

Certain groups of pastors within the movement have been discussing a wholesale departure from the current set up as they had no say in either the direction of the movement or the overseers placed over them.

Long time pastors are essentially being treated as wet behind the ears assistants as the “Moses Model” evidently has different levels of “Moses”.

Others have been frustrated by Smith’s duplicity and are weary of the process.

When Smith does leave, he will leave the financial assets securely in family hands…and the rest of the movement in shambles.

This isn’t the legacy of “servant leader “or a “pastor of pastors”…but of a self absorbed businessman looking out for himself and his family alone.

Why should I bother writing this when I know how much heat it will generate for me?

Because an organization will always reflect the values of it’s leader.

While I truly believe that the majority of Calvary Chapel pastors bought into a vision of ministry that was originally pure in it’s intention, too many others have followed Smith’s template for unchecked and unaccountable power and self enrichment at the cost of the Gospel and the name of Christ.

For too many years the mythology surrounding Chuck Smith has prevented an honest assessment of his ministry and methodology…and the negative aspects of both have been replicated far and wide.

Good men have suffered from guilt by association and bad men have remained unaccountable as a result.

True servant leadership that cared for the needs of the next generation of leaders would help provide ordered succession and clear guidance for those involved in the process.

Smith is running out of time to live up to his legend…and to prove he cares about what happens to Calvary Chapel when he’s gone.

He’s already taken good care of himself and his own family.




Jan 312013

anglicanPredestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

I agree with this. Totally. However, anyone who does not, is still family. Keep it civil.

 Posted by at 3:35 am
Jan 302013

B-8-sew-loose-ends-451x300Family members of the accused killer in the Albuquerque tragedy have created some controversy by making statements of support for him.

The statements have not denied the horrific nature of the crimes or the need to see justice take it’s course, but have been expressions of deep concern and familial love.

This has evoked no small derision and some outrage from others in the community and on various forums as some believe this “monster” has forfeited all human graces.

This notion, in my opinion, strikes at the very heart of the Christian faith and the cross of Jesus Christ.

When He was being murdered for our sins, the Lord said “, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.””(Luke 23:34 ESV)

We had a hand in the murder of our Lord, He died for our sins too.

We do not know what compelled this child to commit this awful crime and perhaps we never will.

It was evil unrestrained and wicked beyond comprehension.

The criminal justice system will do it’s work and he will receive earthly justice and that is as it should be.

However, until the end of his earthly life, he can still be offered the possibility of divine grace and redemption that was purchased for him when Christ died for him.

While some may be unable to offer this young killer grace, I will not condemn those who can.

My Five Favorite “Heretics”:

1.Eugene Peterson

2.Walter Brueggemann

3. Frederick Buechner

4. N.T. Wright

5. C.S. Lewis

Evangelicals have read Lewis for decades to great profit…without acknowledging that he held to “aberrant” doctrines in some areas.

The key here is that he wrote before the internet age…when we judged a work according to it’s merits, not according to whether the author fit our mold.

Out of time…off to work.






Jan 272013

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. I think that if you don’t struggle with some Biblical truths then you’ve not read the Bible with understanding.

I never used to wrestle with certain truths because it was implied that wrestling was a sign of apostasy or unbelief.

However…some things are difficult to embrace.

God chose one people over all the others in the world…which is fine unless you were one of the peoples that inhabited the rest of the planet.

God wiped out all of the world except one family in a universal flood. As I’ve written before, the pictures of the animals entering the ark should be replaced with pictures of  millions of bodies floating around it.

“Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” Tough rule…

The last time we see Lot in the OT he is getting drunk and having sex with his kids. In the NT we see him called “righteous Lot”.

The role of women in the church…

I could go on.

Now, in the final analysis I choose to believe that the Bible is the word of God and “true” in all the things it addresses whether I understand it or not..

It is the only authority we have as Protestants and if you take away anything as being divine revelation, much of the rest collapses as well.

I believe…but I wrestle.

2. The movie is called “The Boy In the Striped Pajamas”. It’s about the friendship between the son of a German officer and a Jewish boy in WW II. They end up dying together in a Nazi gas chamber. When Trey asked me what God was doing while all the horror  of the Nazis was going on I had no answer…when he pressed me on it I got angry…because I have no answer. I sinned in my response, he didn’t sin by asking.

3. I’m teaching through 1st Corinthians in church and find it fascinating that we don’t know the name of the senior pastor…I suspect that there wasn’t one. The letter is addressed to the whole church with the expectation that it be presented to the whole church…not confidentially to a particular leader to filter to the pews.

4. Same with the letter to the Galatians…

5. and Romans…and Ephesians…and maybe we need to look at church polity again.

6. DavidM sent me this incredible link to The Martyrs Project. It is a collection of the prayers of the martyrs from the first century to the modern era set to music….and it’s a lot more than that. I commend this much to your attention.

7. The end of the NFL season is a small death awaiting resurrection on the first day of baseball season.

8. A new interview with Phil about my book…I just like to talk with Phil.

9. The best friends I have say the toughest things to me...sometimes using colorful language.

10.  It is so easy to become theologically correct and spiritually wrong…knowledge about Christ without knowing the person of Christ is the foundation of a great many evils.

Jan 272013

I still care a great deal about issues surrounding church abuse and pastoral corruption.

Whether it’s Calvary Chapel or Neo-Calvinists perpetrating the abuses, I care a great deal.

There was a day when I believed that external pressure alone could bring reform and repentance to places we exposed as needing both.

A recent article on the Daily Beast relied partially on the work we did on these issues years ago.

That article will have the same effect as all of mine did…not much.

Calvary Chapel in particular is a one man show…and that man is even more entrenched in his ways then when I started.

He doesn’t care what anyone, especially bloggers, think about him or his work.

Chuck Smith along with C.J. Mahaney and all the rest don’t have to change…they are wealthy and powerful and sovereign in their realms.

Unless they break the law, the only ones who can change the organizations they run…are the people that support them.

This is not “defeatism”…this is my rational conclusion based on years of experience, documents, and an understanding of present realities.

Victory, to me, will not be defeating our perceived enemies, but empowering those who are and would be victims to overcome them and their work.

It has seemed to me that it is the people in the pews who we should try to influence and educate.

So, instead of constantly making much of corrupt leaders, I choose to make much of Jesus and His word.

I want to empower people to think for themselves and question traditions they have accepted without much examination, both in the pastorate and the pews.

If we can get the Body of Christ to understand that all are as important to the church as the pastor, many of these abuses will stop because people won’t tolerate them.

That’s my goal…to empower and strengthen people so they recognize and boot those who would use them.

There is a time and a place for what we used to do…but it’s not everyday, all the time, at least not here.

That does not mean I object to those who do choose to focus on these things…the internet is big enough and the need great enough for all perspectives.

The only objective victories we won came from dialog with those within the camp, who I have chosen to continue offering our perspective to, online and off.

When this generation of leaders passes perhaps our efforts to inform the next group will engender positive change, which as I have noted can only be willed from the inside.

Finally, there is great beauty, joy, hope, wisdom and truth in the Body of Christ and we neglect all of that to our own detriment.

There is much to read, much to sing, much to celebrate.

That is as important to note as all the abuses.

Maybe more so…

I ask that you treat each other with the respect and dignity here that you may have been denied elsewhere…that you model here what you want the whole Body of Christ to be.

In doing so you will at least change your part of the church…

Blessings on you all.








Jan 272013

Though I would rather not do so, I need to talk a little bit about my life and this blog to clarify some things.

The most obvious change over the last year or so is that I’m not here as much as I used to be and I’ll address that first.

Like most of you, I’m too busy for my own good, so I have to prioritize what I do.

I work full time Tuesday through Saturday managing a retail outlet .

I am still privileged to teach a wonderful group of brethren every Sunday night and thus I have message preparation that needs to take place the week before.

I am a dad, helping to raise a very active, very complex ten year old boy.

I’ve made a lot of friends here over the years and I do some online and offline counseling as time allows.

I also take part in this blog and I am responsible for it…though I’m insanely thankful for those who come alongside to help.

That doesn’t leave much time for things like, well, sleeping.

The complication that has arisen over the last couple years is that I’m trying to do all this while wrestling with some health issues.

I have COPD…and I’m still recovering from the surgery in October where I lost part of my right lung.

The bottom line is that I don’t have the energy and resilience that I used to have and doing what I do takes more time and effort these days.

This work is the last on my priority list and I think you’d all agree that that would be the biblical priority.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love it and care deeply about it…it just means that I have to care for other things first.

I don’t have either the time, energy, or interest  to constantly keep Christian adults from fighting with each other.

It also means that I need those who participate here to care for the content and community while myself and my co-workers are busy.

If we are to keep this going we need to learn to co-exist with people who we may have differences with…or even be offended by.

We need to understand that there is very little positive that comes from constant repetition of pet points and offenses and even less from constant picking at each other.

This has been a unique and valuable place on the internet for a long time now…and it’s my hope that we can continue to be both in the coming years.

I need your help to make it happen.

In a followup post I’ll talk a bit about content and how and why things have changed over the years.

Jan 272013

thumbnail.aspxHad we the chance, we would have rushed to Bethlehem to see this thing that had come to pass.

Had we been a day later, we would have found the manger empty and the family departed.

We would have learned that they fled to Egypt,

warned that the baby was endangered,

sought by the establishment of the day

that understood how his very life

threatened the way things are.

We would have paused at the empty stall

and pondered how this baby

from the very beginning was under threat.

The powers understood that his grace threatened all our coercions;

they understood that his truth challenged all our lies; they understood that his power to heal

nullified our many pathologies;

they understood that his power to forgive

vetoed the power of guilt and the drama of debt among us.

From day one they pursued him,

and schemed and conspired

until finally . . . on a gray Friday . . .

they got him!

No wonder the family fled, in order to give him time for his life.

We could still pause at the empty barn–

and ponder that all our babies are under threat, all the

vulnerable who stand at risk

before predators,

our babies who face the slow erosion of consumerism,

our babies who face the reach of sexual exploitation,

our babies who face the call to war,

placed as we say, “in harm’s way,”

our babies, elsewhere in the world,

who know of cold steel against soft arms

and distended bellies from lack of food;

our babies everywhere who are caught in the fearful display

of ruthless adult power.

We ponder how peculiar this baby at Bethlehem is,summoned to save the world, and yet

we know, how like every child, this one also was at risk.

The manger is empty a day later . . .

the father warned in a dream.

Our world is so at risk, and yet we seek after and wait for

this child named “Emmanuel.”

Come be with us, you who are called “God with us.”

Walter Brueggemann

Jan 242013

I have this file in my head…it’s called the “things I know that I can’t write about” file.

It’s full of scandals and shameful actions taken by people who claim to be leaders of the people of God.

I can’t talk about them because I don’t have the documentation, because people won’t go on record, because sometimes it would hurt innocent people more than it would the perpetrators of the shame.

They are things I believe to be true, but I can’t do a thing to change them.

That file opens when I see them showing off their “holiness” and “godliness” to the masses or getting ready for their next conference .

It opens itself when I watch their blinded followers willingly enable them to do as they please…and I know they would turn and rend me before they would believe the truth about their idols.

It opens in the night and reads its contents aloud when I try to sleep.

I wonder if God sees.

He has access to the same files…

I climb the stairs to the second floor of the mall and can barely catch my breath…I have to hold the rail and strain for air.

The child sees the fear in my eyes and I see it in his and we both try to un see what we just saw.

I wonder if God sees.

It’s 21 degrees in the freezing fog and the words on her cardboard sign are running from the damp, cold air.

They say she’s short on rent and any amount will help but we don’t have any amount left either and I wonder if He sees.

My email is full every day with stories of divorces pending, and children at risk , and hearts in pieces.

I read them to God and ask Him if He sees.

When Hagar fled to the desert because the wife of the father of our faith abused her mightily, the angel of the Lord met her there.

That angel was a theophany, an older Testament appearance of Jesus.

Jesus met the broken and abused in her desert and when He had counseled and consoled her she said;

““You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.””

(Genesis 16:13–14 ESV)

I guess that answers my question…and maybe yours too.

Make your own application…


Jan 242013

anglicanNot every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

Agreed? What are “deadly sins”? What is it to sin against the Holy Ghost? Is it possible to depart from grace? Is it possible to not sin? I guess this article also begs the question, is it possible to be “un-saved”?

 Posted by at 3:44 am