Nov 302016
 

blind-brand-loyalty-100640212-primary-idgeIt was perhaps the greatest shot in college basketball history.

In a wonderfully played national championship game, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels fully made up a 10 point deficit with less than 5 minutes left to play when Marcus Paige made a circus-like 3-point shot to tie up the game with only 4.7 seconds left.  Paige’s shot was extremely clutch with a very high degree of difficulty and it sent Tar Heel fans into an explosion of celebration.

But Paige’s shot wasn’t “the” shot.  The Villanova University Wildcats had one last chance to regain the lead and avoid entering into an overtime where North Carolina would have all the momentum.  Having to go the length of the court with only those 4.7 seconds left, the ball was inbounded to Ryan Arcidiacono who quickly and masterfully dribbled it up the court.  When nearing the 3-point line Arcidiacono, forwent the opportunity to take the potential game winning shot and passed it back slightly to the trailing Kris Jenkins who had inbounded the ball.  Jenkins caught the pass and immediately raised up at 25 feet from the basket and released the ball with 0.8 seconds left.  In a moment that seemingly hit slow-motion, the ball arced through the air as the clock hit all zeroes and then splashed through the net for the game winning points and the championship and set off all kinds of pandemonium in Villanova fandom.  Kris Jenkins had made “the shot”.

The new college basketball season has recently started up and there is a source of contentment when watching my Villanova Wildcats.  There is no anxiety as to whether the team can succeed or not.  No more concern of having a great regular season only to come up short in the postseason.  No more worrying about another heartbreak in a city who knows far more sporting anguish than it does celebration.  This team has done it.  It just plain feels good watching them continuing to play well while cherishing what they accomplished just last season.

 While Arcidiacono and fellow senior starter Daniel Ochefu graduated and have departed for professional endeavors, Kris Jenkins is back for one more year.  And in my book, he can shoot all he wants.  He has had a couple games this year where he has struggled with his shot.  I don’t care.  He made the shot that mattered.  He can shoot all we wants because he is golden in my eyes.

We all have those heroes in life who we look up to.  Those who we admire for what they have done, and sometimes have even done for us.  Sometimes the admiration is from afar and other times it is for someone who is very close to us, and everything in between.  Our loyalty can be fierce because of the good they have done and the ways they have come through for us.  They are golden in our eyes.

It doesn’t matter it they start missing a few shots here and there.  They made the one that counted.  We don’t care if they have some bad games, they came through for us when we needed or wanted it most.  No matter now, even when their continual misses are causing harm to the team.  We can overlook and forgive their trespasses because of what they did in the past.

Loyalty is generally a good thing, but at what point can our loyalty sometimes become more harmful than good?  How many shots can our heroes or admired ones miss until we re-evaluate our devotion?  Not that we should just ditch them in the street, but does the manner in which we convey our allegiance sometimes give license to the objects of our admiration to continue missing shots?  Does our sense of overlooking and forgiving sometimes heap even more hurt on those who already suffered harm from the missed shots?

We know we are all fallen.  That we all are going to sin and screw up at times, even our heroes.  When our admired ones do mess up, this does not mean we should cut off our attachment and declare them anathema?  But how do we handle their failures?  Of course we could and should forgive.  But there is much more to it than that.

Those who we are loyal to may have done a lot of good.  They may even continue to do much good.  But when they do sin or bungle a situation in some manner that brings harm, can we see this?  And not only can we see this, but can we react appropriately to those who have been hurt by our cherished ones’ actions?

There is obvious application here to our culture of celebrity worship that often infects even Christian arenas.  The placing of the Christian celebrity on a pedestal can be a big problem in the evangelical culture.  But it doesn’t even need to be a celebrity.  It can be our not-so-celebrity pastor or anybody else in our lives.  When loyalty to a person or even a cause leads us to treat others wrongfully or to not react suitably to their hurts or concerns, we should be re-evaluating how we are acting on our loyalties.

Those who have come through for us, who have comforted and helped us in our struggles, who have taught us good things, who have been good friends, have earned our respect and loyalties.  It would be completely wrong to treat the parents who lovingly and sacrificially raised us through our entire childhood the same way we would a stranger on the street.  Not that we should treat the stranger poorly, but you know what I mean.

However, we should demonstrate good judgment in seeing that our loyalty demonstrates righteousness.  Righteous loyalty shows honor and deference and appreciation as is appropriate.  Unrighteous loyalty covers up wrongs, alienates others, and gives license to more wrongdoing.

Kris Jenkins can shoot all he wants in my book.  But if he starts overdoing it and is missing too many shots and becomes too wrapped up in himself, this is not good for the team.  If I somehow played a real role in Jenkins’ basketball life, my full consent to his shooting could potentially bring harm to the team, depending on how situations played out.  I would need to be wise enough to recognize those situations and react accordingly.

Lord, help us in real life to find the harmony of showing loyalty to those who have earned it while also remaining wise and righteous in our loyalties. Help us to remember that only You Lord, is worthy of our complete and undivided loyalty.       

Nov 302016
 

chuck-smithThe story is part of the Chuck Smith mythology and is told in celebration of his spirit.

The story is about how, back before there was a Calvary Chapel, the young man Smith was a part of another denomination.

 

He chafed at their stodgy ways and their desire to control and manage every part of another mans ministry.

He felt the Spirit was often quenched by such and when he could take this quenching of the Spirit no more…he left.

He wanted and needed the freedom to follow the Spirit in his ministry.

In time, the Calvary Chapel movement was birthed from his decision to leave.

This story is oft repeated as proof that Chuck Smith was a man full of the truth and the Holy Ghost.

Fast forward fifty years or so and the movement Smith founded has now split.

His son in law chafed at the stodgy ways of those who tried to seize control when Smith died and their desire to control and manage every part of other mens ministries.

He felt the Spirit was quenched by such and when he could take this quenching of the Spirit (and their slander) no more…he left.

He wanted and needed the freedom to follow the Spirit in his ministry…and he wanted to offer the same to others.

A new branch of Calvary Chapel has been birthed by his decision to leave.

The rest of that story hasn’t been written yet, but both were worth telling today…

 

 

Nov 292016
 

37467So…as of this morning, this is what I’m hearing.

Don’t expect a response from Brian Brodersen to the last Calvary Chapel Association screed.

He’s not interested in an ongoing internet food fight.

It’s not his style, nor his heart, to engage in strife.

What some folks need to come to grips with is that Chuck Smith intentionally left all the assets that were associated with “Big Calvary” under Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to be controlled by that church, it’s board, and it’s pastor.

That’s why some were so desperate to wrench the church away from Brodersen by any means necessary.

They failed to do so because, at the end of the day, Chuck Smith denied them.

That is undeniable, legal, fact.

Brian Brodersen doesn’t have to answer to anyone, but his board and congregation, for how he uses the assets his father in law passed on to him.

Whether you like it or not, CCCM is the home of Calvary Chapel…they own the trademarks to the name and logo and no smear campaign can change that.

If that chaps your bottom…blame Chuck.

We have also learned that there is more internal division on what’s left of the CCA council…that letter was a bridge too far for some.

This, despite more claims of unity in the last letter…

I want to address the meaning of the word “accountability” in regard to the CCA letter.

When we talk about accountability here we are speaking of being held accountable to biblical standards of morality and ethics.

That is not what McClure and company are speaking of.

They are speaking of accountability to the doctrines and culture of what they perceive Calvary Chapel to be…thus. not just fidelity to a pre trib Rapture, but a commitment to abstinence from alcohol and a refusal to associate with outsiders they feel are a threat to that culture.

One fairly prominent pastor has already been threatened by the CCA that if he continues to associate with someone they do not like he will be kicked out…

Finally, the KWVE purge was not about  Brodersen exacting wrath on his enemies.

It was about the station no longer being able to subsidize any programs and getting a better business model in place.

Well, except for John Randall…that was an answer to his betrayal.

Tomorrow, I’ll address some of the ignored victims of this mess…

Update: Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is no longer listed by the CCA as an affiliated church.

Nov 292016
 

timthumb.phpWaiting for God to act…

Sarah is writing about Advent…

How should the church deal with convicted sex criminals?

Advent devotional guide…

Some churchy things to be thankful for even if you don’t like them…

Do the Abrahamic faiths worship the same god?

When the Bible disagrees with itself…

No needy among us…

Mindfulness and other contemporary legalisms…

God is not out to get you…

Fighting poverty with the Gospel…

Evangelicals and the pursuit of power…

The latest from Wenatchee the Hatchet…

Pastors launch expletive filled Advent devotional…

Recalibrating the culture wars in 2016…

Don’t block the light…

We may be “meaning junkies”…

Your KLOVE donation does not provide a child with a winter coat…

Carl Trueman on transgenderism and the military…

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

Nov 282016
 

rdozlerDoveThe CCA has sent out this email blast to Calvary Chapel pastors…with the notable exceptions among the signees of Skip Heitzig, Ricky Ryan, and Wayne Taylor.

This is the official notice of a split…and a declaration of open war instead of the passive agressive backstabbing that is the CC norm.

We’ll have more to report as we go…but we again say that this is both a dishonest and duplicitous narrative that is being foisted upon the pastors and congregants of CC.

We have said that it was a raw power grab on the part of the CCA…and this is the biggest grab of all.

 

“Calvary Chapel Pastors,

Pastor Chuck Smith chose a group of men to lead the Calvary Chapel movement after his passing. The Calvary Chapel Association Council was a plan he reiterated on numerous occasions. A Council provides checks and balances, and a collective wisdom to help steer us in the right direction.

The CCA Council consists of men from across the country who are committed to the core values that have made us Calvary Chapel. Like many of you, we have given our lives to build Calvary Chapel churches. What makes the 1700 churches “Calvary Chapel” are the values Pastor Chuck instilled in us – our doctrine and philosophy of ministry. The principles we were taught and the transformative power of God’s Spirit have proven to be more than sufficient. The CCA Council’s primary goal is to maintain what has been our Calvary Chapel identity for fifty years, while seeking the Holy Spirit for fresh power and wisdom to advance God’s Kingdom.

We believe Calvary Chapel has a unique and important role in the Body of Christ. Pastor Chuck left us a glorious legacy. Yet the new Calvary Chapel Global Network, established by Brian Brodersen, now threatens that legacy. This network goes by the name “Calvary Chapel,” but has no framework for affiliation or required commitment to the Calvary Chapel core values. Such a network will ultimately de-emphasize our Calvary Chapel distinctives. The CCGN establishes a different version of Calvary Chapel, and will cause confusion. Brian claims the authority to represent, and even more critically, to define, what Calvary Chapel is and is not. In a recent letter to the movement, Brian quoted Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” Brian’s resignation from the Council, acknowledges he disagrees with the way the CCA Council would lead and define Calvary Chapel. This has created a crossroads that none of us on the Council wanted.

The division that has occurred in Calvary Chapel is not a minor issue. It is more than “good men separating.” Sadly, Brian is insisting on being the primary and authoritative voice of the movement without being accountable to the men Pastor Chuck chose to lead. The CCA Council cannot endorse this Global Network. Brian continues to present his version as the Calvary Chapel vision for the future. Brian has sole editorial control of calvarychapel.com. His webpage “Our Vision & Mission” describes the site as “the one-stop online-hub for all things Calvary Chapel” – and part of its purpose is to “explain the official theological positions broadly held by the Calvary Chapel Movement.” In the CCGN, one man is tasked in determining what is normative for all Calvary Chapels. None of the CCA Council members would take that kind of authority into our own hands. We recognize that no one man has the calling from God, or the stature in the movement to define “official theological positions” for all the churches. Our founder and pastor entrusted those decisions to a group of men, not one man.

CCA is built on the foundations given to us by Pastor Chuck.

CCGN is creating a new blueprint devised by Brian.

CCA is being led collectively by a group of men.

CCGN will be directed by one man.

CCA is a fellowship of pastors with an agreed upon philosophy of ministry.

CCGN is a community with no formal affiliation.

CCA will continue to have a regional emphasis.

CCGN will be centralized in Costa Mesa.

CCA has always afforded great freedom, but with a degree of accountability.

CCGN is about freedom, without accountability.

To avoid confusion moving forward, we think it is best to separate the CCA from the CCGN, now. Calvary Chapel is not just one church in Costa Mesa, it is 1700 churches that are affiliated through the Calvary Chapel Association. In spite of this, Brian has taken it on himself to “grandfather” the entire Calvary Chapel database into a network where he alone is the authority. Rather than granting us the freedom to join, Brian has forced us to choose to opt out.

As Council members we will not be part of Brian’s network, and we encourage other pastors who are affiliated with CCA to do the same. Rather than start a new group, Brian is building a group within an existing association. We believe this is divisive and will only bring further confusion. Yet each CCA pastor is entitled to make his own decision. For many pastors these issues are new and need to be given thorough consideration.

This splintering of our movement has been painful in many ways, but the CCA Council is relieved that we can now walk in unity and work to strengthen the foundations that have made Calvary Chapel a mighty move of God. Despite our best efforts, for the last three years, storm clouds have been gathering that were obvious to many people. It has caused our Calvary family confusion and grief. But the storm is now passing. New beginnings are ahead. Our vision is clearer and the future is brighter. Once again, let’s depend on the Holy Spirit’s empowering, abide in God’s Word, and trust Him in new ways. As our Pastor taught us, life is full of ventures of faith. This is one more.”

The Calvary Chapel Association Council

Sandy Adams, Malcolm Wild, Joe Focht, Don McClure, Lloyd Pulley, Bill Stonebreaker, Damian Kyle, Jack Hibbs, David Rosales, Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, Jeff Johnson, David Guzik

Nov 282016
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. In the book of the Revelation there is great joy among God’s people when evil empires and leaders are finally judged. We saw a picture of that when there was dancing in the streets this weekend over the death of Castro. Those who found this joy odious display an historical illiteracy that is stunning…

 

 

2. I’m pretty sure the election is over so we can all stop posting “proof” on social media that those who think differently than us are stupid, evil ,and deceived…

3. When I was a younger man I set out to work until I was able to answer every question anyone had about the Bible. As an older man I’ve found that “I’m not sure” is often the correct answer…

4. When I was a younger man I wanted to teach the Bible so well that my church could answer every question anyone had about the Bible. Now, I simply want to show them Jesus and what He has done and is doing…

5. In two weeks I will have finished teaching the book of Revelation…without ever needing to refer to current events for clarity…

6. It is with sad resignation that I have stopped recommending books to people that seem to be interested in a particular topic. There was a day when people sought to have an informed opinion, now it is enough to be able to spout an one…

7. If there was a way to sleep until Dec. 26, I’d take it…

8. I can’t avoid the feeling that those of us who don’t have the tradition of following the church calendar are missing something wonderful…

9. The last Vikings loss officially began hockey season for me…

10. There is nothing more painful than trying to hang on to your dignity when the Lord is teaching you humility…heard that from a friend…

Nov 262016
 

We make a pause amid many voices-some some innocent and some seductive, some violent and some coercive, some forgiven and genuine, some not.

Amid this cacophony that pulls us in many directions, we have these old voices of your prophets; these voices attest to your fierce self,

your severe summons,

your generous promise,

your abiding presence.

Give us good ears, perchance you have a word for us tonight; Give us grace and courage to listen, to answer, to care, and to rejoice, that we may be more fully your people.

Brueggemann

Nov 262016
 

Word of GodMatthew 13

Parables could be described as an earthly story with a heavenly connection – but that is not complete or true.

They can be used as a comparison – “the kingdom of God is like…”

 

Let’s talk about the Kingdom of God / Heaven.

  • It is not a visible earthly organization.
  • It does not occupy a specific territory here on earth
  • The Kingdom of God is God’s dominion – it is his ruling activity.
  • Think of it more as the Reign of God – the Activity of God
  • God rules in the hearts of believers through the power of his word.
  • He calls people by the gospel and through this gospel he creates saving faith in the hearts of these people.
  • This may seem hard to understand in these hard times with ISIS etc but…
  • God rules over the whole world and directs the events of men and of nations in the interest of the church – all believers.
  • Sometimes we can clearly see God’s hand — perhaps as we look back through the centuries – and at other times we are just left scratching out heads.

Here is a main point of the parables that I think is often missed – There are 2 different hearers – those with ears to hear and those who do not have ears to hear — and this evokes 2 different types of response.

Take note – v. 1-35 are presented outside to the general public, the crowds – v. 36-52 are given inside the house, in private to the disciples.

The Parable of the Sower

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.

  • What same day? What house? What sea? Where was Jesus?

And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.

  • I walked out of my house this morning, there were no great crowds waiting for me. But it would be great to live at the beach.
  • So, what’s wrong with this picture – why am I standing and you are sitting?

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.

  • This is a good vocational statement – if you have been called to be a sower, then it is good that you are out sowing.

And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

  • Is this the way a farmer sows seed?

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,

but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.

Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.

Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

He who has ears, let him hear.”

  • Do you have ears?

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”

  • Notice that the disciples did not ask Jesus to explain the parable.
  • The asked why he was speaking in parables
  • What are you doing Jesus? Are you trying to hide truth – are you trying to confuse people?

11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

  • Is truth just for some
  • Was Jesus just a Calvinist, giving truth only to the elect and blinding those who are going to be cast into hell?

12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

  • Who is the one who has? = the believer
  • Has not = unbelievers – that wicked and adulterous generation
  • They not only do not get what Jesus is passing out – but whatever they have will be taken away.
  • This is why the parables are told – to give more and take away more.

13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

  • What? Weren’t we always taught that the parables were to make the teachings of Jesus more clear?
  • But the parables cut both ways – law & gospel depending on the hearer
  • For those who do not hear – for those who reject Jesus, it is a pronouncement of the law on them… and not just future judgment.
  • But a word of gospel for those who have ears to hear … and that also is a type of judgment.

14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

  • Matthew once again goes back to quoting Isaiah and finding fulfillment in Jesus.

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

  • What? Jesus preaching in parables so people actually would not see and hear?
  • This my friends is judgment on unbelief … in the present.
  • This is scandalous stuff.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

  • 16 & 17 are the gospel part
  • Today – the today for them is what the whole OT has been coming to.
  • These are the folks spoken of in V. 8 & 23

 

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