A Word From “Praise Warrior”

Kris says:  I received the following today via email from “Praise Warrior,” who posted it as  a comment over at SGM Refuge.  “Praise Warrior” asked that I consider posting it here – and I am more than happy to do so.  Once again, please note:  I am NOT the author of this particular post, although I think the sentiments it contains are very good.


Submitted by “Praise Warrior” —

Enough is enough.  

God, while ever patient, will not be mocked. There is a time for everything and perhaps it is time for some righteous anger. There seems to be an unrelenting stubbornness and resistance from somewhere within SGM leadership that is repelling numerous true attempts at repentance and restitution. Some have had grace to stay. Others have had grace to leave. This is not just “our perspective” – these are our experiences. We don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing them with a reconciliation group like AOR with whom we have no relationship.  

Ideal SGM review panel: Peter, Paul, James and John.  

A few questions here – all, we pray, asked in the atmosphere of “breathing grace” (as Ken Sande would say) and Christian love and concern: 

Would Peter find historical issues of some in SGM leadership lording it over the flock? Maybe he would speak to the instances of some being compulsive, shameful, blackmailing and domineering and urge humility and leadership by willing example. 

Might Paul admonish that there has been some partiality and it would stand to reason that the charges brought against some elders have been by more than the required 2-3 witnesses? 

Could James call for a council of all the elders to come together and decide whether too great a yoke has been placed on our necks  that neither we nor our fathers can bear? 

Is it possible that the disciple Jesus loved would recall the letter of Christ to the Ephesians who had abandoned their first love? Maybe he would encourage you to remember from where you had fallen and do the works you did at first. Perhaps he would warn you that unless you repent, Jesus will come to you and remove the lampstand from its place. Yep – those are strong words but they are not ours neither are they our opinion. 

CJ has proclaimed the hills on which you will die. There are many things you stand for that you hate, but what do you love? 

Analogies always break down somewhere but you get the point. Is there hope for SGM? Always, if your hope is in God alone. He alone is the Chief Shepherd of the church. Pastors are undershepherds. SGM members/leaders consider this: have there been ethical leadership violations during this whole debacle? If so, where is your voice? Is it confined to the forum of one brave pastoral team sending a letter on behalf of some churches or is there a way through the wilderness here that would bring good to all? 

Reality check: if you are an SGM member or pastor and you find out what is going on in SGM from these blogs, you might want to grab another cup of coffee.  

If anyone would find it difficult in good conscience to invite an unbelieving neighbor to attend your local SGM congregation with you because you might have to eventually try and explain this mess, it might be time to make your departure. Talk with the Good Shepherd about it. Maybe He will have you stay. Would He want to attend with you? When God comes to church, there is no mistake He is there. 

There is a pain associated with exiting – believe us, we know; but there is also the issue of integrity and honor. The fires of First Love have dimmed and in some cases appear to have been quenched. Have the once passionate and zealous group of pioneers  in large part become settlers? 

Some leaders appear to be content with putting Band-aids on festering wounds. Dressing up a situation with new board members and changing your polity will not be the end all move without fundamental repentance and heart change. We submit that this would involve all three of these: confession, repentance and restitution. 

Confession. Repentance. Restitution. Those seem to be the forgotten life-blood. It is not okay for a perfunctory report to come out and say “Oops – sorry – we really missed it there.” Peoples lives have been affected. Eldership that goes un-checked and unbalanced is unwise and can violate people. 

SGM, return to your First Love. We are not arm-chair theologians who have vengefully conjured up the notion that we are self-appointed judges and prophets. We are brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot stand for the few leaders driving things at the top of the organization that was once an organism. Then there are some leaders who seem to just be “yes men.” We believe in telling the truth in love and many of you have not listened. 

Thank you to those of you who are listening. 

Please, we appeal to you. Do not harden your hearts and instruct your flocks to not read the blogs. We are not hate-mongers and malicious gossips. We are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater nor are we painting you all with broad brush strokes. We are deeply concerned for you. We pray for you. Many of us stayed until it became an issue of conscience and we felt forced to leave. May of us had our loyalty called into question. Our departures do not equal disloyalty. Our loyalty is to Christ. 

So we are watching – some from a distance and others from within. We long for our remnant to have a voice. 

There are some statements coming from current leaders that are encouraging. We are listening but words without accompanying change will be meaningless. Glad you are re-wording your polity but it is true: actions will indeed speak louder than words. 

Example: where is the AOR report and why does it need to be discussed in Louisville before we ever see it? What is there to hide? 

Some have suggested that we are just a bunch of bitter and resentful people. Maybe some of us are. Perhaps we aren’t. Maybe we have been exasperated. We might just be sad and if you will permit a category of hurting. People who are sad and hurting yet full of love for you. Why sad and hurting? 

It would appear to us that the once dearest places on earth are slowly becoming a desert. Where have all the soldiers gone? Is there anyone out there who is not just hearing us but perhaps may be listening too? Post here, please. Engage us in the dialogue.


Kris says:  Once again, although I think this is a very good message, I am NOT its author.  “Praise Warrior” is.

215 comments to A Word From “Praise Warrior”

  • Dan

    I’m using sick leave off from work to make myself hear C J Mahaney speak …

    Everyone deserves a 2nd chance no? And it’s been a while since I’ve listened … ;-)

  • 2+2=4 again

    Persona 213, sounds like CJ indeed has a taste for pressing the flesh. Perhaps he has voiced otherwise. It’s all about the money (mammon) and your last sentence, “men fall all over themselves trying to get close enough to touch a few celebrity pastors”. how sad.

  • Persona

    LCF, Nope, I am nowhere near Louisville this week.

    I have historically kept-up with messages from many conferences over the decades but no more.

    I still have some interest in the activities of Mr. Mahaney, in hope of beholding a hint of repentance; not to learn from him. God knows I have spent years ‘unlearning’ his teachings.

    Today, glancing at the tweets that have come to my attention, I am sorely grieved at the influence CJ still seems to have on the church at large.

    While watching a couple of the t4g videos, it amazes me how many men still crave his approval. But, I am hoping CJ’s distaste for pressing the flesh, will keep his influence to a minimum.

    How can God be pleased as men fall all over themselves trying to get close enough to touch a few celebrity pastors?

  • Oswald

    LCF #211 — If you are there and heard the CJ opener, what say you about it?

  • Local Church Fan

    Anyone else here at T4G?

    Persona, sounds like you might be.

  • Muckracker

    Mahaney’s message is being discussed over on SGM Refuge:

    The title of the message is “When a Pastor Loses Heart.” As people have stated on the Refuge discussion what about when members lose heart say after seeing the sin and hypocrisy of Mahaney and other SGM Leaders.

    My reaction to Mahaney speaking :barf:

  • Michael

    @ Muckraker, listened to CJ’s message and wish now that I hadn’t. He’s certainly not going out of his way to be offensive, but certainly I think another pastor at the conference, perhaps one of the two who were diagnosed with cancer, would have been much better equipped to tackle the subject matter. I definitely did not appreciate the implication at the beginning that listening to the message critically was antithetical to listening humbly.

    But enough of him. Here’s a helpful article on God’s justice and healing:

  • Muckraker

    BrokenHearted @203 T4G will be updating their audio files almost in real time. Not sure if that includes the Panel Discussions and Breakout Sessions. In case you or anyone else has time to listen and dissect…I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts. :D

    Here is the link:

  • Greg

    @202 Mommy2Boo,

    Excellent article. It appears that the Times understands the current trends and its leaders better than the church does. I think it is a fundamental error for the church to define itself in relation to culture and doctine.

    “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

    Why are we not recognizable as imitation of Christ?

  • just saying...

    #197 – I’m sorry. “Many” was not the correct word. “Some” would have been a better word. In looking into it, some of those chose not to attend, so not sure how that turned out.

  • Persona

    Brokenhearted 203 If you can stomach it you can follow conference tweets on #T4G12 I don’t know if they are streaming this year. CJ gave the opening message on the topic of the suffering pastor. Seems to be on a roll with that topic.

  • Persona

    C.J. bought him some friends with our money in the past but, thankfully, he can no longer afford to write the big checks.

    Still, the Big Dogs all scratch each others’ backs so, there is plenty of guilt to spread around. We need to vote with our feet and allow God to judge their deceit, which I believe he is doing right now.

    Shame on us for trusting them in the past but, we needn’t give them any more money to play with. So no more buying their books or conference tickets for me!

    It is grieving to see the assembled masses that are apparently still fooled by them and their words. But, I trust God will be faithful to purify his bride. And, I know he is greatly pleased with those of us who have put aside the man-worship that infuses SGM and the glitzy packaging represented of conferences like T4G.

    I highly doubt that Jesus would cross the threshold of the Yum Center. After all, some of his most D**ning words were reserved for hypocrites.

  • BrokenHearted

    I want a play by play of T4G like we had for the pastor’s conference :)

  • Mommy2Boo

    Wow. I just read this NY Times article on Driscoll and was struck by the last sentence, which I included with the sentence before it to put it into context a little more:

    “At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.”

    Full article is here:

    My apologies if this has already been discussed, as I’m just seeing it’s from 2009.

  • Izze

    B.R. Clifton #200- Well, they would be wrong.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Izze #199:
    The SBC and the leader of the SBTS aren’t really interested in the Holy Spirit except to use as a “catch word” or fancy lapel pin to wear around. As far as buying into the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and all that it implies, forget it. They don’t want anyone running the “show” but themselves and they want no “outside” interference.

    You have to consider what they mean by “fruitful” churches. SBC and the SBTS concentrate on what is known as the “ABC’s” of Fundamental Evangelism. That means; A: Attendance. B: Buildings. C: Cash flow.
    If you pastor wants to be counted among the “fruitful churches” then he conscentrates on these “ABC’s” above all else.

  • Izze

    If i see this RT one more time… ugh

    RT @SBTS “As you look to fruitful churches you will find dying pastors.” – @CJMahaney #T4G12

    Funny- I thought the One you would find behind these fruitful churches would be the Holy Spirit. Silly me. What do I know?

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    Posted before I saw your post. Bummer!

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    just saying 194:

    “I’ve heard when CJ is introduced for his sermon, “When a Pastor Loses Heart” many are planning on rising to their feet and walking out of the session.”

    You said that you heard many are going to stand up and walk out of CJ’s session at T4G???? Really???? How do you know? That would be powerful. I hope they do it. He and the other RBD’s need a wake up call like that. God, please give the dissenters courage!

    If anyone hears anything about it, please let us know!

  • Local Church Fan


    No such thing happened.

    Nearly 8,000 attendees, presently listening, thankful for the grace of God in CJ’s ministry. He is a gift to the church.

  • Greg

    Philly Girl,

    So what C.J. did was to buy himself, largely at our expense, a 250K insurance policy on his career. He never had theological credentials, his leadership is now under question, so he has wisely cashed in on his career insurance policy with SBC. There is no other reason for him to leave his home turf in Maryland, except to continue his career. Maybe he saw the writing on the wall in 2010.

  • just saying...

    To the fine men at T4G:

    Many of you are on the fence. You are attracted to the alliance T4G brings between yourselves and many other like-minded reformed church movements and denominations. But, you are uneasy about that one man on the stage. You know the division this movement has brought to your town, to your denomination, to your church. You read of the many heresies taught over the years. You hear stories of victims and abuse. You are uncomfortable.

    Titus 3:10 says
    “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,”

    He has been called out, more than once. It is time to have nothing more to do with him. Take a public stand at this event.

    I’ve heard when CJ is introduced for his sermon, “When a Pastor Loses Heart” many are planning on rising to their feet and walking out of the session.

    I implore those reading from T4G to take that step. Do not align yourselves with a divisive man.

  • just saying...

    Philly Girl- That’s peculiar considering CJ’s entire ministry has been based upon dividing local churches – a large number of whom are Southern Baptist.

    SGM is not a “church-planting” organization. It is in the business of “church-splitting”.

    When you move to a new town and your entire congregation comes from other local churches, you are divisive. It’s time for local churches to speak out.

    Start a blog for all of the SGM victims who never attended SGM – the ones in the shattered church at large. There are a lot more victims out there.

  • Philly Girl

    I found this going from one story to the next. Why can’t people in other denominations see this? They aren’t in the mess to be so blind. I guess money talks within the church as it does in the world around us….

    “This may be old, but, it is an example of how powerful CJ is/was/is. Whatever! For example, unless I misunderstood the cash contributions recorded for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, C.J. Mahaney is one of the largest contributors to our seminary outside the Cooperative Program. Listed on the latest “President’s Council,” an exclusive class of givers who personally donate in excess of $100,000, is C.J. Mahaney (//link, pages 36, 43).
    But that’s not all.
    Also is listed in the “President’s Council” apart from individual donors under the section for organizations is Sovereign Grace Ministries. Hence, C. J. Mahaney’s organization gave an additional $100K and/or more to Southern Seminary (p.43). Some more cash came to Southern Seminary via Mahaney’s church–Covenant Life Church–but it was only pocket change: the class of contributors which gives but between $15K to $25K (p.44).
    My own guess is, Kevin Ezell met Mahaney through his church member, Al Mohler, who probably was excited to introduce him to Dr. Ezell due to Mahaney’s superfluous support of Southern Baptist work via Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Whatever took place, the magic happened and Mahaney got an invitation to address convention attendees.
    Therefore, since:
    C.J. Mahaney is preaching at the 2010 Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference
    C.J. Mahaney is a very, VERY charismatic preacher
    C.J. Mahaney supports Southern Baptists by supporting at least two Southern Baptists’ books–Mohler and Dever
    C.J. Mahaney has apparently given, just over the last few years, close to a whopping quarter-mil$$$ to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, making him a living, breathing cash-cow no one will soon butcher…
    I believe C.J. Mahaney may very well be among the next nominees for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
    I know, I know. The skeptic is yelling through my computer screen at me: “Peter! Mahaney can’t be president because Mahaney is not Southern Baptist, you West Georgia nitwit!”
    But I contend that C.J. Mahaney is in many ways as much Southern Baptist as many of the young & restless are. Hence, they don’t notice the difference.
    From what I have heard, some among the younger Southern Baptists do not realize parliamentary procedures prohibit the nomination of someone like C.J. Mahaney. After all, Southern Baptist polity is hardly their strongest suit, you know.
    Hence, my prediction as one nominee for president of the Southern Baptist Convention is C. J. Mahaney.”

  • Yentl

    To those at CLC who are grieving a great loss, I wish you comfort. Many of you are broken and crying. Many of you are separating from your closest lifetime friends and family. Spouses are estranged and marriages rock. Brother and sister are going their separate ways. Parents and children are separating also. Best friends are not speaking. All of this is to stand up for the loyalties to this one man.

    See how he grieves with you now?

    This week, while our husbands are at T4G laughing at the celebrity pastor comedian, take a moment ladies to peruse the blogs. Let them “inform” you. Call your estranged friends. Go out to lunch and ask them to tell you what happened to them. Ask for their perspective.

    When the AorR report comes out, sit with your husband and read it.

    You don’t have to sell your homes and leave your church family.

    Let this man go and come home to the church that loves you. We don’t have to do this. We can stay. Let’s stay.

  • Muckraker

    They have a great blog post about T4G (which starts today) on the Wartburg Watch:

    Of note:
    On the T4G promos inerrancy is misspelled. :wink:

  • Oswald

    BL #188 — Yes, Jim is back as of April 1.

  • Beautiful Lies

    Sea Change – I think that was Jim Donahue on the evangelism videos. They were good, but they seemed like they wanted to make them like other teachings put out by other groups where there is audience reaction, laughter, etc. They were professionally done. CovFelers – is Jim back at CFC after his sabbatical?

  • Sea change

    A little bit back in this conversation, I saw the idea of SGMs missions being geared towards attracting people from other churches. I can say that from my experience, having entered into sgm as an outsider with no prior knowledge of it (by the way, nobody from outside sgm that I talk to even knows what it is), I very quickly got the sense that this was true. My other gut level feeling was that they thought that they were the gold standard, the ones who had finally arrived, and that everyone else just wasn’t as serious.

    Looking back, i remember being confused by the testimonies being shared from the stage being ones that went something like “I thought I was doing fine in my previous church, before I found sgm, but now I see how much I was missing. I’m so grateful to have found this church”. What I didn’t hear was “I was lost before I found Jesus. I’m so grateful I found Jesus”.

    On another note, I was pretty sad when I realized that despite my remaining in sgm kicking and fighting and never really buying into it, I still managed to put on some of that superiority. I even began to look down on my parents who are devoted Christians. It makes me sad that there are still so many who are displeased with sgm, yet fearfully remaining in it because they have bought the lie that all other churches are lesser and dangerous.

    The vibe I got regarding evangelism was that the goal was to get people to the promised land of our church, not win souls or make disciples. Discipleship is the job of the pastors. But this is just what it looked like from my perspective. Dont assume i was deeply involved or had any behind the scenes knowledge. I was very peripheral in many ways. This is just my gut reaction to what i saw and heard. I remember when they had us watch sgm-made DVDs in care group to instruct us on how to evangelize. It depressed me, being a part of that whole thing, because we seemed so helpless, scared, and joyless. How are you supposed to share Jesus with someone when you have no joy? When you feel like the underclass of believer? Why not just leave it to the pastors? Why should we need a DVD instruction series? Then again, if you want me to enter into awkward and forced conversations with people, then I could probably use a little pep talk. Personally, I gathered that evangelism amounts to inviting people to church, and I didn’t even like going to the church I was in, so why would I invite anyone? Now I need to reorient myself towards real evangelism, grow closer to my savior, and ask for opportunities to let my faith and joy shine on others. You can’t really do it without joy.

    Sorry. I’m rambling here. It’s been a while since I could bring myself back to Survivors. Reading too much about sgm makes me want to do crazy things!

  • 2+2=4 again

    185, Thank you, Praise Warrior! SO TRUE!

  • Praise Warrior

    Let us celebrate the VICTORY of Christ over sin, death, hell and the grave! We must live in the good of this all year long. The best way we can do this is to embrace this truth: “How shall we who are dead to sin still live in it?” Let us not allow any teaching on sin to lead us to a morbid introspection.

    All the truth about the doctrine of indwelling sin MUST lead us to exalt God’s grace and live in the FREEDOM He won on Resurrection Day. Yes, He went to the cross as our Substitute but then He went to the grave. ON the 3rd day, God raised Him from the dead and He appeared to many. He ascended as the VICTOR and is seated at the Father’s right hand. One day soon, He will return in the clouds and inaugurate the New Heavens and the New Earth.

    Now until that day, let us praise Him and focus on the work that remains. He has called us to be watchful and make His Name known to those who haven’t heard. SO let us fight as warriors. Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood. We need to take a healthy dose of Ephesians 6 and face the spiritual warfare Paul taught us about.

    Maranatha friends!

  • Maybe now that C.J. Mahaney is at Solid Rock Church he could give a message on commitment to the local church and include how the leaders watch over your souls and that you should always “leave well.” Mahaney doing that wouldn’t be any more hypocritical than his last 3 Sunday messages he has given at Solid Rock.

    One Sunday message was C.J. Mahaney talking on the Pharisees vs. tax collectors and another one on suffering. Sadly C.J. doesn’t recognize that he has been like a Pharisee with his conduct and most of his “suffering” is the result of his own sin and poor choices. Why shouldn’t C.J. talk on another subject where he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

  • Breeezey

    Happy Resurrection Day to all who read here, poster and lurkers alike. May the Lord of Glory lift you up and keep you all the days of your life now and forevermore. :D

  • Persona

    My favorite day of the year!

  • Let My People Go

    BrokenHearted, Amen and Amen. How beautiful are your words. Thank you for taking the time to post them. HE LIVES!

  • BrokenHearted

    My Easter prayer for everyone…

    Lord thank you so much for the good that you have done through SGM Survivors. Thank you for the friendships that have been created, for the comfort that has been given, for the truth that has been revealed here. Thank you Lord for each person here who is seeking to know who you truly are and what The Gospel REALLY means. Thank you for sending your son to die for us, AND THANK YOU THAT HE ROSE AGAIN!!! Thank you that Jesus is right now at your right hand interceding for us. Thank you that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Thank you that we are new creations! That our old legalistic selves are dead and we can live in the freedom of Christ.

    Lord please help us today to be able to worship you for who you are and without baggage or assumptions. To be aware of your power and your love and grace! Lord for those of us still in SGM churches please help us to be able to continue to be bold about truth and places where we see our churches not pursuing truth and openness. And for those still looking please help them to find amazing churches where they can be cared for and where they can care for others and where your word is preached boldly and without “twists or slants”.

    Father, thank you that we can approach you today without any fear or shame – You have set us free!

    We love you Lord! In Jesus’ precious name – amen

  • Defender

    Thanks Greg.

  • Greg

    Happy Easter everyone! Christ is risen.
    There is nothing anyone can do that is greater than the triumph we have in Christ.

    I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

  • Persona

    The only defense lovers of baseball have is to call it ‘a thinking man’s game’. Kinda sad.

  • Paul

    ATC #168

    Baseball is a “pastime” (as opposed to a “sport”) in which a fat American throws a small ball at another fat American who tries to hit it with a stick, only he misses. This goes on for three or four hours at a time. Whether it’s more or less boring than cricket is a matter of opinion. I’d certainly take 20/20 cricket over baseball any day.

  • Defender


    “Some folks insist on placing their faith in man instead of God.”

    Oh my goodness!
    Judgement Day could just be a surprisingly BAD DAY for those folks.

    Makes me shudder!

  • B.R. Clifton

    I agree with your view on the reformers. Augustine was not the place to stop or go back to. His views on theology were tainted by his upbringing and his schooling in Greek Philosophy, which bled through into his Christian theology. I think, however, it would have been extremely difficult for them to go back and look at the church in the first century. They may not have had access ti the proper documents to make the appropriate changes. Besides, theor overall thinking was decidedly Catholic in nature. They didn’t want to leave the church, they merely wanted to clean it up and get it back on track.

    I see the Larry CJ relationship pretty much as you do. Things might have worked out better if CJ had been satisfied to play #2 man instead of coveting the “top dog” spot. I call it that but I doubt that Larry ever saw it that way. As I see CJ’s teaching or preaching or whatever you care to call it, his take on “Kingdom Living” was doing it by pulling yourself up by your bootsraps, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. Once CJ worked himself into the #1 spot I think he viewed anyone who might have had alliegance to Larry as being a threat and he got rid of them (those who didn’t exit on their own). Then it was a matter of maintianing his supremacy by purging anyone who was rash enough to disagreee with him.

    CJ will continue to leave a path of wreckage as long as there are those who are willing to follow him and live in his brand of churchianity. Some folks insist on placing their faith in man instead of God.

  • Stunned

    AKS, I just saw that you wrote, “Stunned, thanks for sharing that. I would love to talk with you some time about your findings.”

    Drop me a note, anytime, girl.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Bookhead 164: Brilliant. But if they do not release it, they cannot escape the fact that we know. And I hope it gets mentioned on every Big Dog blog comments section on the internet. It is too late to hide.

    I am guessing that at some point it may get leaked unless they hide it from every SGM pastor. They have had a leak somewhere. We will see. Maybe they will release certain parts with some apologies and a bit of spin.

    Breeezey…….re your Sardis…..if you read the works of the guys who lived back then, mostly Puritans, they had an outpouring of the holy spirit like we may have never tasted. Their writings are full of communion with God, praying for hours on end, caught up in worship. The Reformation was so alive, not dead at all.

  • B.R. Clifton

    ATC #169:
    Baseball is a higher refinement of Cricket and doesn’t last all week.
    :D :wink: :D

  • Roadwork

    It’s not Rounders.

    (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

  • ATC

    And, ‘Another Joe’..

    What’s baseball?


    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • ATC

    The Mars Hill Church, Seattle video is here:

    and at 5:13 the pastors are introduced.

    I’m thinking a lot about why I don’t like this.

    Is it style? No offence, but is it my English ‘let’s keep a lid on all these emotions’? Am I just getting that ‘other side of the Atlantic’ feeling :wink:

    I just can’t imagine any of the Apostles introducing each other like this!

    I think the ethos of the New Testament goes against it.

    The Reformed (biblical to me) belief in the depravity of the human heart should make us avoid it.

    Paul had some strong words to the Corinthians about their tendency to follow particular leaders.

    Any response, brothers and sisters?

    ATC, Bristol, UK

  • Another joe

    On a less serious note BASEBALL HAS STARTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Breeezey

    B.R. – I am a theological hybrid. My baseline theology is moral government but I my eschatological view is dispensationalist. That outline is definitely of church history is without a doubt dispensationalist. I think it matches history best. I think that moral government theology matches scripture best regarding the issue of free will, man’s responsibility, and original sin because the reformers didn’t reform far enough. They stopped at Augustine rather than going back to the first 300 years of church history for how they saw free will. For instance I don’t think anyone before Augustine taught the “irresistible gift of faith”.

    The period of time you were referring to matches the church of Thyatira. And if you notice Pergamos, the church started to compromise before it became corrupt. And while you are correct in that all of those churches were coexisting at the same time the predominant characteristic of the church in general is what I’m referring to. For instance the church of Philadelphia is the missionary church and receives no rebuke. The Laodicean age of church history pretty much begins around 1900 but look at what happened at the beginning of the 20th century: The Welsh Revival and the Azuza St. Revival. These in turn birthed revivalists like Billy Sunday, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Loren Cunningham and on into the Charismatic movement that birthed TAG which eventually morphed into SGM. Each church can carry characteristics of all of the ages simultaneously because believers differ in their individual walks. The difference is that some churches are evangelistic at heart, others concentrate their energies at caring for their members, still others make their mark at caring for the poor.

    I believe Larry was the heart of the evangelistic part of PDI. Once Larry left the evangelistic emphasis seemed to leave with him. And I’m not just talking about him leaving PDI. I’m talking about him leaving the area. Larry had all of these neat ideas for sharing the gospel. CJ never did. CJ pretty much taught how to live the life once you were in the kingdom but wasn’t any good about bringing unbelievers into the kingdom. That was why the emphasis was to invite unbelievers to church not person to person witnessing. Without evangelism the church gets insular. That is one of the major problems with SGM now, its insular. And you can notice the progression in church history. The church gets insular, the gifts of the spirit stop flourishing, the church begins to get corrupt as it compromises. The gifts are given to draw in unbelievers. Unbelievers are supposed to see the gifts, they are supposed to see power, then a community of sold out people who love one another and then come begging to be let in. That constant freshness keeps the church on its toes.

    I believe CJ and Larry were a pretty good team in the beginning but when Larry left the area the emphasis shifted and much of the freshness left. SGM is where it is because the person at the top had no one to “yank his chain” who he would listen to. Out of all of the guys who sat on the platform at TAG: CJ, Gary, Larry, Jim Orban, Robin, and Che Ahn… look at where Che is. Che had to leave PDI to fulfill what God had for him. Literally CJ sent everyone away except Gary (his bil). So no wonder he had no one close to speak the truth in love that he would listen to. He had no one close enough to if necessary sit him down and now he was literally forced to and he’s still not listening. I just hope he doesn’t leave even more wreckage before he wakes up.

  • Bookhead

    Interesting that SGM erased comments from their blog. In response to the “Priorities for the Year Ahead…” posting on March 23, there was a question asking if the complete AOR report would be released to SGM church members. Andrew responded that the complete report would be released. Now the question, and Andrew’s response are gone. Evidence has been erased.

  • B.R. Clifton

    That’s one theological way of looking at the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation, but no the only one. It all depends on which denominational doctrine drum beat one marches to.

    Those seven churches were co-existing in the first century when Jesus dictated those letters. Five of the churches had serious problems while only two received no rebuke. The church has had commendable times and shameful times through out it’s 2000 year history. Our current condition is not a commendable one, in fact quite shameful. But if I were to assign a laodecian lable to a given time in history I think I would say the dark ages fit the criteria better than out own time. The difference is that then there weren’t many churches and denominations, there was only one church and one central governing authority of the overal church. That was Rome and the Papal seat. That period of time was a really dark period in the history of the Roman church. Leadersip was corrupt to the very core. The offices of “Bishop” and “Cardinal” were for sale. Popes were instituted and deposed by whoever had the greatest political (or military) power. It was during this terrible time that Luther wrote his famous 95 theses and nailed them to the chapel door. Thoses theses spoke against the corruption and evil that was then going on. Although the reformation that came out of those theses and Luther’s efforts changed the face of the church, corruption remained and has been the root cause of most of the fragmentation of the church into the myriad of denominations we now have.
    Just as those seven churches were in existence together in the first century, I believe they still exist together today. It could also be an individual heart thing. If we were to examine ourselves, what category would each of us fit into? Which category would we want to be found in and what are we doing to get there?

    BTW, Ephesus was rebuked because they had lost their first love. What love might that be? What did Jesus tell the Pharisee when asked what the first and great commandment was? In view of that, what is our first love?

  • Breeezey

    I may be a little off but I’ll throw this out anyway. As a casual prophecy student when you look at church history each of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 correspond to a certain time period in church history. Here is the breakdown of:
    Church History Foretold in Revelation 2 – 3
    1. Church of Ephesus – 33 AD– 100 AD Knowledge without love in the filling of the Spirit
    2. Church of Smyrna – 100 AD – 312 AD Persecuted poor but rich church
    3. Church of Pergamos – 312 AD – 590AD The compromising church
    4. Church of Thyatira – 590 AD – 1517 AD The corrupt church (the great counterfeit)
    5. Church of Sardis – 1517 AD – 1750 AD The dead church (orthodoxy without the filling of the Spirit)
    6. Church of Philadelphia – 1750 AD – 1900 AD The Missionary Church (eschatology began to be studied, systematized, looked at literally rather than allegorically)
    7. Church of Laodiceah – 1900 AD – Rapture The lukewarm church (compromise with the world system and apostacy)
    We are living in the church era of the Church of Laodiceah. Jesus has a major rebuke for that church. He said they were neither hot or nor cold and that He would spit them out of his mouth. He said He was standing outside and knocking. I seem to remember a post a loooong time ago where someone stated that the Holy Spirit wanted to take a meeting in a certain direction but the leaders disagreed and kept doing what they wanted. In essence kicking Jesus out of His own church. He’s on the outside knocking and asking to be let back in.
    I’ve heard it said that the US is the representative Christian nation on the earth right now. Our “beloved” president may not think so but if you ask that question of almost anyone anywhere else in the world the US would be considered a Christian nation. What does God see when he looks at the “church” in this country? I would think He sees the church of Laodiceah.
    Where were the Reformers? The church of Sardis. Dead and without the filling of the Spirit. Does that or does it not describe CJ right now?
    The good news is Jesus comes for His Bride. (Even a backslidden Christian is still one of His.) We go before the Bema seat for our rewards for what we did while we were believers. He purifies His Bride (Laodiceah) and we then go to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
    SGM and the RBDs seem to be a combination of Sardis and Laodiceah. The worst of both church eras.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Muckraker, etc:
    Actually very few prophets enjoyed the luxury of being in the “inner circle”. The prophet Nathan was one of the very few in that position. Most prophets were outsiders, not so much for their demeaner or dress habits (Like John) but rather for the message they had been sent to deliver. Basically they spoke against a corrupt and wayward leadership along with a populace who followed along blindly accepting whatever the RBD’s handed out. After all it was the people who had demanded a king in the first place in spite of Moses and God’s warnings against it. Most of the prophets met with violent ends because their message was not joyfully received nor accepted as the Word of God. Is. 30:9-10 gives the picture of what happens. Leaders only want to hear things that lend support to what they are saying and doing. How many times have you all heard a “pastor” asking for support and cooperation for “his vision for the church or for a movement”. Shouldn’t the question be asked; “What about God’s vision”?
    Modern day prophets come in all shapes, forms, and fashions. Usually they are of the “John the Baptist” persuasion and elicit mostly snickers because they aren’t in lock step with the mainline RBD’s. Then there are the false ones who wear the expensive suits, usually appear in the flashy conferences and are trumpeted as “the prophet for today”. One usually finds humility to be extremely scarce when these men are around.

    The way to discern between the two is to take the message of each and hold it up against the Word of God and see which one can stand the test. There’s also another way. Usually when one of the phonies speaks you can detect the faint smell of burning sulfur in the air.

  • Muckraker

    ooops, forgot to blockquote the whole thing… :(

  • Muckraker

    Also, I thought this was great on :

    Could some bloggers be modern day prophets?

    Something struck me the other day. Did you know that some of the pastors criticize bloggers, saying that they are men in their bathrobes, living in their mother’s basements, eating Cheetos? (Digression: It obviously does not apply to your glam TWW bloggers.)

    How was the prophet, John the Baptist, described? He came in from the desert wearing a camel hair shirt, eating locust and wild honey. In other words, he didn’t dress up in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt with a hoodie, looking very manly and cool. He looked a bit odd. Yet he was called by God. Could it be that these pastors are missing the point with their silly little putdowns? Would they have done the same to John?

    Recently, Mark Driscoll wrote on the Mars Hill blog that the Scripture indicates that there are the prophets, priests and kings in local churches. He identified some in his church by name. Although I do not agree with his “exegesis,” I will use his example. Driscoll, of course, gets to identify his prophets who, of course, would probably fall all over themselves agreeing with him

    In the Bible, the prophets were called by God to confront unbiblical behavior. They were not always a part of the inner circle. They also really, really irritated the kings and leaders. And, if John is any example, they might even have looked a bit odd. My guess is that Mac Brunson and Mark Driscoll are not very good discovering the “prophets” in their lives.

    I want to end this post with a final quote from Wade’s blog.

    “Finally, just a word to my fellow pastors. If you are publicly criticized, censured, or condemned, it would be good to follow the advice of King David, who when verbally castigated by one of his subjects and asked by Abishai if he could “go cut that dead dog’s head off,” responded, “Let him alone. God hath bidden him to speak.”

    Could it be that some of these bloggers have been sovereignly placed here, for such a time as this, to keep church leadership honest? Could it be that God is using the Internet for His purposes? Come on, guys, you are the Calvinists who constantly assert that God is sovereign.

  • Muckraker

    B.R. Clifton: Great reference! :clap From the NIV:
    “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.”

  • B.R. Clifton

    Defender, Uriah, Kris, etc.:
    Could it be that we are witnessing God bringing Jer. 23:1-4 into play here? :scratch

  • Persona

    It seems like Dave Harvey is also being pruned but I think he uses the term ‘overwhelmed’ or something similar. I wish the guys would just deal with themselves as they have dealt with others over the years. Sharpen the ax, boys! And, start chopping!

    Unfortunately, ‘a little leaven, leavens the whole lump.’ That is why observant Jews throw away everything in their pantries this times of year. It is an apt metaphor for all SGM-related churches. In my opinion it will be impossible for a healthy church to emerge out of the ashes of SGM or CLC. Only another unhealthy church can emerge from such and unhealthy lump of leaders.

  • Defender

    I like what Uriah #146 said.
    And I agree, God is purifying His Church, and taking many self proclaimed leaders to the woodshed.

    As goes the Church, so goes the Nation…

    Please God! Purify your Church!

  • Oswald

    Kris #152 — Driscoll and Mahaney both seem to have a distorted view of what the Lord is doing in them and where they stand in it all. (Driscoll is ‘over-extended’, Mahaney is ‘persecuted’)
    Pride seems to have blocked clear view and made a blind spot in them both.

  • Argus

    Pruning is a Biblical term, of course, as well as a gardening term.

    John 15 tells us that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Branches that do not bear fruit wither and are burned, while branches that bear fruit are pruned.

    Pruning cuts away parts that are not useful and/or do not benefit the plant. Pruning has several possible purposes:

    Cut away spent old growth so that the plant may quit supporting ‘dead wood’ and put its energy into new growth, to reinvigorate the plant.

    Cut away weak, diseased, or blighted parts to halt the spread of contamination.

    Cut off parts that are heading in an unwanted direction to control the direction and direct the shape of future growth.

    Cut off excess top growth to compensate for loss at the root level. (If a plant is stressed by harsh conditions or transplant shock, it may lose some of its roots. It then lacks the support to sustain its top-heavy structure. The whole plant may die unless pruned; it will certainly struggle and wither.)

    Cut off tangled or crisscrossed overgrowth at the top and in the core. Cut off parts that, instead of reaching outward, point back inward. Open up the structure to allow air to freely circulate and to allow light to reach the inner and lower leaves. (Otherwise, the result is a plant that looks healthy on the surface while it is withering and prone to pests and disease underneath.)

    Cut off the tips of terminal branches (the prominent ones — they produce a hormone which inhibits lateral budding) to encourage many more shoots to develop throughout the plant, which will increase yield many times over.

    So many analogies — so little time!

  • I guess we’re missing some important information about how these guys might be using the “pruning” analogy. If you assume (as I was) that Mark Driscoll is seeing himself as a single tree being pruned, then he’s just being cut back for awhile because he overextended himself.

    In other words, I’ve gotten the sense that when Driscoll spoke of being pruned, it wasn’t in the context of being cut back so that the rest of the church could get healthier.

  • Moniker

    Beautiful Lies – I personally wouldn’t touch any Acts 29 church with a 10 foot pole. I’d suggest you head over to The Wartburg Watch and do some reading. They have done a lot of investigation about Driscoll, Mars Hill, and Acts 29. Be sure to read the comments, too. You’ll learn a lot and maybe save yourself some grief.

  • intheNickoftime

    Uriah & Kris –

    I like the word SPANKED over pruned!

  • Oswald

    Kris #147 — I think pruning is a good analogy in the church(es) today. In addition to your explanation of the use of pruning, I would say pruning allows greater growth on the branches left after pruning off the useless overgrowth. Another way of pruning is fire, as in a forest where there is too much growth and God is the pruner. Some have said that SGM needs to be done away with and newness will grow, that is how fire works in a forest. ‘Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new’. I think we can see God at work in the church, pruning and shaking what is shakable, in order to allow the unshakable to be known.
    Blessed Good Friday to everyone.

  • Beautiful Lies


    This gang here seems to know a lot about Acts 29, Mark Driscoll, etc. Could I get advice on whether to be suspect or trusting of an Acts 29 church that is also PCA? (Presbyterian Church of America). I like the PCA part, but the Acts 29 part makes me nervous. We haven’t been to visit yet, but it was recommended. It seems to be another contemporary, we don’t-need -to-do-things-the-traditional-way incarnation. I don’t think those churches realize they alienation everyone over about 35.

  • It’s funny that the word “pruning” is being used. Pruning implies too much growth too quickly…so that the cutting back is only happening because the overgrowth is unsustainable.

    On a lot of levels, pruning is a terrible analogy. What is happening to these leaders has less to do with getting too big or overextending themselves and more to do with isolating themselves at crucial points from serious and real accountability.

  • Uriah

    Driscoll is being corrected not pruned. I’ve heard that word so much during the course of the big shake up God is doing. Pruning is the politically correct word in SGM for correction/discipline of the Lord. As you know, they cannot bring themselves to admit that God has taken them to the woodshed.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Lost #143:
    Brent is merely calling a spade a spade. AS long as CJ continues to refuse to address and confess his sin and involvement in the SGM tragedy, he will be in darkness and misery will follow him wherever he goes. David’s Psalm describing his troubles before he finally confessed his sin in having Urriah murdered is a good description of what CJ will undergo until he confronts his problem.

  • ATC

    I’m sorry to go off-topic from Praise Warrior’s prophetic heart but this site is usually kind to off-topic stuff!

    Yesterday I came across the ‘Joyful Exiles’ website of the dismembered, abused and shunned ex-elder of Mars Hill Church, Seattle. I read Jonna’s story and then spent several hours going through the documents yesterday. I was saddened and angry. I’d always been a BIT of a fan of Driscoll and think of myself as a Reformed Charismatic. Well, it was an eye opener. I was shocked at his behaviour and the behaviour of the other elders. The only light is that Driscoll resigned a while ago from several ministries, didn’t he, and now I understand why he is referring to it as a ‘season of pruning’.

    What is the Lord doing in the Western Church, particularly in America? It seems with its huge number of Christians (ever visited the UK??) massive conferences, the kudos of Reformed theology and the pride this has led to, things are being shaken. I now see the Scriptures through a whole new light. At first I thought this ‘whole new light’ was me throwing out the baby with the bathwater due to my bad experience of church leadership, but four years on I’m moving more and more to a simple church / organic church belief. I’m still working out my polity (‘leaders’ are mentioned in the NT and I think the heart issue is greater than the importance of a particular polity) but it’s like seeing the New Testament ‘one anothering’ verses afresh, and the number of scriptures that deal with this as opposed to the whole congregation – EVERYONE included. Whatever is the ‘true’ polity I know it’s nothing that enforces a ‘clergy/laity’ divide, an ‘us/them’ mentality, a ‘leader/non-leader’ ethos. We’re all in this together. Elders will arise naturally through the Spirit’s gifting (and they’ll be ELDER men rather than the late 20s to late 30s model of the nuclear/trendy family we often see) and they’re the ones, of course, closer to the floor as they wash the feet of the saints. I briefly saw a clip of the Mars Hill pastors being introduced on stage during some massive stadium bash they all had recently. Cheers, and applause, and big smiles, and sharp suits. God may be very pleased with their hearts, as He alone can see them, but the temptations and dangers to fallen man for this sort of public prominence is yet again seen in Driscoll.

    I was thinking last night about the amazing power of the internet. People can’t get away with this now. In this day of scanners in living rooms to copy emails and word processing our testimonies to publish them on our blogs and websites, things can’t be done in the dark. It’s like the reinvention of the printing press which poured out the Scriptures and tracts and blew apart the might of Rome.

    Well, just felt like sharing that. And praise warrior, your post was spot on.

    God is doing an amazing thing in His Church. The only name that can be lifted high is JESUS!

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    In his most recent post Brent wrote this regarding CJ:

    “Darkness and misery are his constant companions but he does not know why. He lives in a pit of despair but cannot get out.”

    Do you think Brent is just making an inference from CJ’s last 3 messages at Solid Rock or does he know from those closest to CJ that he is not doing well? I hope it is not just presumption on Brent’s part, but that this statement can be substantiated. It makes sense to me that this would be the state of CJ’s heart, but I think it is important that Brent (and all of us) is careful about making claims to know another person’s heart.

  • Brent has a new post up:

    Brent discusses C.J. Mahaney’s last 3 messages at Solid Rock.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    5 years, LOL!

  • Defender

    Having not been there in person, I cannot say with authority, but the inkwell story is by all accounts I have ever heard true. I am told bu people (whom I trust and have no reason to lie about it) that you can tour the place where the inkwell event happened and the ink stain (although faded) is still on the wooden door.

    I got a funny little demon story of my own, (as if demon stories can be funny…)
    I got this part time gig working nights as a janitor in a local mega church. HUGE building, and spooky late at night… (once I came around a corner in a dark passage and nearly bumped into a woman dressed all in black. almost could not see her. She was blasted drunk and could hardly slur words to understand. She was looking for the AA meeting. She missed it by several hours, and had crawled into a corner of the Prayer Room and was sleeping till late that night, when I found her.)
    I told you that story to tell you THIS story.

    The teenage son of the Sr. Pastor was working with us one night and he was cleaning the Sunday school rooms. Dark & spooky rooms late at night…especially when the HVAC system kicks in. He came down stairs with his eyes big as dinner plates, and asked me “Do you believe in Demons?”
    “Do you believe they could be in churches?”
    Oh yes! I’ve met several.
    “I saw a demon up in the 3rd – 4th grade room!”
    Yeah, probably. Listen, you are a believer, right? You are covered in the blood of Jesus, right? That demon can’t touch you. Now get back to work.
    I added, “Just leave the lights on and I’ll shut them off later.”

    The boy quit a few weeks later…..(He wasn’t a very good worker anyhow.)


  • numo

    Stunned – I’m inclined to think that the Luther and the devil stories are folklore, but factual or not, they’re pretty cool>

    otoh, Luther did believe in devils (see the text to A Mighty Fortress is Our God) and I’d venture to guess that he could have had some experiences like the ones in the story…

    As for him being high-maintenance, yep! I sometimes wonder how his wife coped. ;)

  • Stunned

    5 Year, heee heee heee

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Oswald….. :D

    Mom…….trying to use logic, eh? Forget it, you are a woman. Give up and try to be more sanctified by obeying humbly.

    Hey, you think Kris is really a guy? Can all that intelligent logic really come from a -gack- woman? Nah, not possible.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I had a girlfriend over the other night, and the subject came up of ‘a junk drawer’. She asked me what was the whole issue/joke about a junk drawer. I tried to explain to her how it is based on the premise of “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place”, and her response was, That fits exactly-it is a junk drawer, and junk goes in it-there is no better place”! LOL! Almsot every house I have ever been in, where they were ‘ready’ to deal with the most unexpected of things, they went to the junk drawer! Just saying.. :spin

  • Stunned

    numo, yes, you’re right about the inkwell.

    then again, for all I know, these are made up “Christian” stories that preachers like to repeat, thinking they are true. either way, i like the story. still makes me see that i can grow and change.

  • Stunned

    Defender, that is how I picture it. Thank you for putting into words what I could not.

    I figure, heaven is going to be such an awesome place. (Mostly because I’ll be carried around in God’s breast pocket. Yes, God will be wearing a 1950’s dress shirt with a pocket for pens and the like. That is where I will be living.)

    But scripture does say that He will wipe away every tear. Now, I am one to cry tears of joy, but I don’t get the feeling that He’ll need to be wiping away tears of joy. (I hope everyone recognizes that this whole post is pure speculation.) I think that there will be SOMETHING to cause us tears but I have a feeling that will just be at the beginning and after He wipes them away, they will no longer ever exist. I am guessing that it will be like you described, Defender, and that we will have momentary tears when we see either what others suffered or what we would have done to cause Him or others pain. But that is just so we can see how amazing and wonderful and full of love and grace He is. No shame, just truth. Everlasting, wonderful truth. How can we NOT skip down those streets of gold after that? (Again, I will be in His breastpocket so I won’t be skipping so much as riding along as He skips.) How can we not spend at least the first trillion years saying one long, “Whooaaa” at how magnificent He is? How can we NOT rejoice over his goodness for another bazillion years? I think we will be outside of time but however long that first “Whoooaaa” is and how ever long the first rejoicing is, it will be just the start of an eternal “whoa”, “wheeeee” and “woo hoo”.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Defender #132: Good Words! :goodpost :clap :D

    However we describe what will happen then, it will not be a time of God’s retribution toward us.

  • Defender

    B.R. Clifton #115,
    On the memory of sin, post arrival in “eternity”…..
    I heard a rather profound argument that, quite frankly changed my thinking ever since.
    It went like this:
    At the final Judgement, everyone will be judged for every word and deed, etc. (Even Christians.) Some have postulated that this is a kind of “last dig” for our sin before we get “in”. That would be wrong.
    What the last judgement for believers is about, is to identify just exactly what Jesus covered for us. We will not be embarrassed, because shame will be removed, it is not about US. It’s all about JESUS! and what He did!
    This will actually be a time of rejoicing as we realize the full measure of the Grace God has given us through the covering of the Blood of Jesus.
    I think we will remember our sins, but as reference to the full Glory of God, not in shame.

    Also, I have heard preached about God no longer remembering our sins. It’s not about God getting a case of amnesia so much, but rather it is actually meant to say more precisely, “He holds our sins against us no longer.” (Holding sin against = remembering.)

    I picture myself being in eternity and praising God daily because I would KNOW how I had no way of getting there except for the work of Christ on the cross. I would also remember in doing daily work for God, how I used to do that task so “stupidly”, but now I know a better way, untainted by sin.

    I think ignorance is not really bliss. It’s just ignorance. I think we will be far more intelligent, and without corruption.
    No shame.

    That’s just my 2 cents. I saw what you said and it got me thinking again.

  • Oswald

    5years #127 — Counter clearing and drawer organizing are conducive to prayer time. We need to do all we can.

  • Oswald

    Stunned #124 — Thanks for the Luther stories. I love hearing these. Luther seems like he was a high- maintenance guy.

  • 2+2=4 again

    We have one hidden area in every room that houses nothing but, except I don’t call it junk. It is all most useful, and even though I’m unorganized, I know exactly where each plastic, metal or wood g’adjitzus is.

  • numo

    Stunned, re. your #126:

    I feel the same way as far as hearing peoples’ stories and all.

    Love the Luther anecdote you mentioned earlier, though I *think* it was an inkwell that he threw – at least, that’s how I remember it.

    The “Oh, it’s you” part of that story is priceless!

  • 5yearsinPDI


    I have a true confession to make. I put all the big utensils like serving and slotted spoons and spatulas and big knives and wire whisks in two ceramic crocks on the counter by the stove. And I put most of the eating utensils in a holder with sections, on the kitchen table for easy access. And the steak knives and paring knives are in another small round thingey on the counter.

    So now I have four junk drawers. FOUR. IV. Quatro. Can you believe it? All sorts of lids and junk in there. Matches and toothpicks and blender bottoms and peelers and plastic tops for shaker bottles. String and tape and screwdrivers. All four drawers are stuffed. I bet half the lids don’t fit anything but I haven’t organized those drawers in years. I actually decided I want to clean them up and organize them and wipe them out. Maybe Carolyn is on to something? :D

  • Stunned

    numo, i like hearing about how different people learn about life and the experiences that add to how they see the world. thank you for sharing yours.

  • Praise Warrior

    Lost #86 – don’t mind at all.

    Church history shows how one remnant after another was born in the midst of denominational difficulties. Some groups chose to separate from the establishment (Separatists) and others chose to remain within and attempt to “purify” what had become tainted (Puritans).

    Many were persecuted for living according to their conscience.

    SO much can be learned from both groups and both groups can be respected or critiqued for a variety of reasons.

    One thing is clear – ignoring history is unwise.

  • Stunned

    One of the things I like about Luther is that parts of his story remind me that none of us (well, mostly none) are static human beings. We all change and our views change throughout our lives.

    I remember this story about how he once fetl a demon show up in his presence and he was so terrified he picked up a candle and threw it. Many years later, once he got to know himself more, God more and life more, he was in his room, writing. He once again felt an evil presence in the room with him. Did he throw a candlestick in fear? No, he just turned around and said, ‘Oh, it’s you’ then he went back to his writing.

    We change.

    Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worst.

    Yet me favorite story about Luther is one that someone needs to tell all these people who think it’s worth storing the writings of other dead Christians. (That would be a Driscoll reference.) Before Luther died, after having published gazillion books (that is the official number), he said something to the effect that it was his wish that after he died, they burned all of his books. He realized that some people would read his work and look to him. He said that all we ever needed was the bible and God.

    Smart man. (At the least, on that point.)

  • numo

    Un – yes, *definitely* worth repeating! That site is a terrific resource.

  • numo

    Stunned, you wrote

    Funnily enough (or unfunnily, I guess), I learned about Luther’s less stellar views first when I was in Germany. (My family lived there for a time and I loved getting to visit.)

    I hear you. I don’t recall anyone actively suppressing the bad parts of Luther’s writing and legacy in the church where i grew up – if anything, I think people were all too aware of that aspect of his life and character. (This was in the 60s; WWII and the Holocaust were very recent history.)

    When I did find out about his virulent anti-semitism, it helped me make some sense out of how German society became so ugly during the 30s and 40s. (Putting it mildly – fwiw, I grew up in a partly Jewish neighborhood and became aware of the Holocaust when I was very young.)

    I don’t think I can personally let Luther off the hook on this one, and have never bought the “he was a man of his time” arguments. yes, he was, but he took anti-semitism to a level that I wish it had never reached.

    I can’t really explain how I feel except to say that he was innately flawed (as are we all), coupled with an awareness that even the best of us are potentially capable of horrific things. That’s said in light of all the “good” Germans who did nothing, you know? Could have been me, or you, or the folks next door, no?

  • numo

    Stunned – my apologies! I clearly misread something on page 2 of the comments.

    His Name – thanks muchly for the suggestion! I’ll check that out.

    Hope I didn’t muddy the waters here… history (and us humans) can be quite confounding and confusing, no?

    Wishing all a blessed Easter season! :)

  • Stunned

    numo said, “I think it’s kind of hard to find balanced bios of Luther, in English, at least. (My guess is that there is more available in German, on Luther himself and on the history of the Lutheran church… would be great if someone would translate it.)”

    Funnily enough (or unfunnily, I guess), I learned about Luther’s less stellar views first when I was in Germany. (My family lived there for a time and I loved getting to visit.)

  • Stunned

    Numo, I never mentioned anti-semitism. Maybe you meant that for someone else?

  • Unassimilated

    Numo – Guess we do! I missed yours, worth repeating though.

  • Oswald

    BRC #115 — Thanks so much for the appropriate reminder. Praise God!

  • B.R. Clifton

    I didn’t realize I was placing the “dead hors” in the wrong place. Slip of the mouse. :D

  • B.R. Clifton

    :beat Stunned #105:
    Our wrongs will not follow us to Heaven. They will be left behind. In fact we leave them behind continually as we confess them to the Lord and repent right here on Earth. We will be so full of joy at being in the presence of God and His Son for all eternity that nothing that happened back here on Earth will matter at all. God certainly won’t remember the wrongs. He forgets our sin (wrongs) as He forgives them. That’s certainly a whole lot different than we operate isn’t it!

    Just think of it, You’re no longer the worst sinner you know. Jesus has made you (each of us) free from the law of sin and death so that we are no longer “totally depraved” but have been made Holy in Him and fit as a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Nice things to think about. (and live up to)

  • Oswald

    5years #112 — Yes, please get those countertops cleaned up. And organize the drawers while your at it.

  • His Name is Jesus

    Numo – I have a book on Luther, to my knowledge it is considered the authoritative work. It’s called, “Luther and His Times” by E. G. Schwiebert It was written in the 50’s I believe.
    My father-in-law gave it to me for Christmas. It is very detailed…anyway just a thought if you like.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Brent’s new post is something. Whew. I can’t get into the joyful exile site, wonder if it is overloaded right now. Probably good, I need to clean the kitchen.

  • 2+2=4 again

    ExClcer’s Mom, totally agree!!!

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Luther,Calvin, Piper, CJ, Wigglesworth, Wesley..Peter, Paul, James, even the Pope..They are all but mere men..Men who have been used by God, and men who have made mistakes. It doesn’t even matter if we know what their mistakes were/are..they are human-we know they made mistakes. Ultimately, it is Jesus we look to. We take what any man or woman says, and prayerfully consider what we hear God Himself speaking to us, and shape our lives according to His will for us, not following ALL of what any man says or does. It is for none of us to judge whether anyone is in heaven, really, is it? People we think are following God are secretly doing horrible things..people we talk about ‘in sin’-do we really know their heart before God? We can truly only be assured of our own salvation. beyond that, the command given to us is to love, but to also speak the truth in love, and to judge so as not to cast our pearls before swine, not to judge for salvation, correct? We study our past, and the past mistakes of others, in order to learn, but we really cant say who is in Heaven, can we? Just my thought here, I would love to hear others opinions (unless that might be off topic, then I understand.)

  • Defender

    Thanks all.
    I’ll add those resources to my study list.

    AND, yes, I look forward to lifting a glass of New Wine and fellowship with Luther. (And maybe C.J. too, but I’m not that hopeful for him. :( )

  • 2+2=4 again

    Defender, this is one of the articles, by John J. Parsons, at Hebrew4Christians’ website, entitled, Is Christianity anti-Jewish? A Brief Look at Interpretive Factors There are other articles from that and the home page you can link to, as well.

    numo, I didn’t say that Luther was directly responsible for the Holocaust, and as you know, the Catholic church was responsible for the Spanish Inquisition, but agree with your comment, thanks.

    Stunned, I like a LOT of what Luther said, too, and Calvin, and yes, all believers’ tears wiped away, all wrongs forgotten. Thanks for mentioning that!

    Boiled down, we all are responsible for Jesus’ death, but ultimately, God had prepared Himself as the sacrifice for all our sins from before the foundation of the world, as is carefully stated in Scripture.

  • numo

    Un – Dude! I guess great minds think alike, because I linked to that site a few posts up. ; )

  • Unassimilated

    Plenty of free resources here –

    Luther may not be responsible for the Holocaust, but seeds of hate always flourish in this fallen world.

  • Stunned

    Defender, I still like a LOT about the guy. Once we get to heaven, we will all see our many wrongs. I am guessing the deaths of so many caused many tears for him once he realized how wrong he was and I am also guessing that Jesus wiped all those tears away, just as he wiped away the tears of those who were murdered.

  • numo

    2+ – Yes, the reformers *were* antisemitic, and I so wish that wasn’t the case.

    All of Western society (as well as the “eastern” churches, in Greece, Russia, Constantinople etc.) was anti-semitic.

    I believe anti-semitism to be a virulently evil thing.

    But… as pointed out on some Jewish websites, Nazi anti-semitism has somewhat different causes. That they had historical documents (well, anti-semitic screeds) near at hand to make use of is a horrible thing – but it does not *quite* mean that Luther himself was directly responsible for the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, etc.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Defender, I downloaded the article about a year ago, but I found it pretty easily just by googling, “Were the Reformers anti-Semitic?” There are many scholarly articles out there. That’s certainly not to say that all Reformed folks, then or now, feel this way! I hadn’t heard of Calvin being so, either, but it’s common knowledge for most Jews, because of all the persecution they’ve endured in the name of Christ. It is easy for Jews to think of Hitler, the Catholic inquisitions, the Crusades, Constantine, and thousands of pograms, when they see a cross or hear Jesus’ name. Yes, they need to recognize and receive their Jewish Messiah, which Scripture tells us someday they will, as a nation, but the messages they’ve heard from many Christians for almost 2000 years have been distorted with judgment and hatred. I’ll try to locate the one I downloaded and list it.

  • numo

    Stunned – yes, the Nazis took Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies and ran with it.

    But you might want to check my link (in graph above), which contains some specifically Jewish perspectives on that horrible screed of Luther’s and how it was used by the Nazis.

  • numo

    Defender – I’m Lutheran by upbringing, too, and I agree that context is vitally important.

    Does historical context (including the political upheavals that were occurring in Luther’s day) excuse his anti-semitism? I don’t think so. Nor does it excuse his callousness toward those involved in the Peasants’ Revolt.

    But it *does* explain a lot.

    Luther was a deeply flawed and (I think) troubled man, and yet… there is that which is very good about his work and his life.

    I think it’s kind of hard to find balanced bios of Luther, in English, at least. (My guess is that there is more available in German, on Luther himself and on the history of the Lutheran church… would be great if someone would translate it.)

  • Defender

    Thanks Stunned!
    Having been raised in the Lutheran church, I had the history of Luther presented to me to me there.
    Lately I have been desiring to know more about the history of Luther. I do remember that he had no intention of starting something new, rather to reform the existing Church.
    My (version) of the Lutheran history had no mention of Luther promoting mass murder of peasants, but wanting to protect them, and mourning their deaths.
    Also his antisemitism was reversed late in his life, and he had regretted his earlier stance on the Jewish people.

    History can be picked over to say what ever you want I suppose. Just like Statistics.

    Luther was a man just like ….me. (God help him!)

  • Muckraker

    Praise Warrior via LostinCyber @86: Wow. What a beautiful, articulate appeal. Thank you for that.

    (Except I personally wouldn’t trust a bunch of tears from SGM leaders, we’ve seen that in the past…tears are too easy to manufacture–but a mass foot washing of their victims would be, well, a tad bit more acceptable) :D

  • And as your friend I think you need someone outside Mars Hill to help you discern the presence of pride in your life and serve you in the cultivation of humility that I’m sure you desire for your life and leadership. (C.J. Mahaney, “Letter to Mark Driscoll,” March 3, 2007)

    The above is posted on Brent Detwiler’s latest blog post. Brent talks about this but sadly this just goes again to show how deceived Mahaney is. Mahaney thinks he can help others about pride issues while not seeing the pride in his own life and accepting correction.

    Mahaney’s actions here are pretty similar to Jimmy Swaggart commenting on Jim Bakker’s sexual sin while at the same time Jimmy Swaggart was engaged in similar sexual sin.

  • Muckraker


    One possible reason for the shut-down of comments on the SGM blog could be in preparation for the SGM report about the AoR results.

    Yep. Everything has a reason in the SGM utilitarian universe. :spin

  • Stunned

    PS. Defender, when I say “points to” I meant that he actually suggested and endorsed wholesale slaughter of those who wanted to break away from the Catholic church. In spite of what we think of him, he was not trying to create a new church, just point out the problems of the current one. I believe it you study more about his life, you’ll find he felt kind of guilty for people breaking away and I think his reaction was trying to undo some of what he had done. (Not that he thought his theories were wrong but that people were taking it too far.)

    It really is sad.

    Why do we go around making heroes out of people when there was only ever one person who ever loved and cared for us perfectly?

    pps. It could be why Martin Luther was eventually spared and Jan Hus (his predecessor by 100 years) was burned alive at the stake.

    ppps. Jan Hus was Czech. In the Czech language Hus means goose. As in, “Your goose is cooked.” Kind of a dark saying now that we know the background of it, eh?

  • Another Joe

    This is way off topic but made me laugh really hard.

    In a conversation with a friend he said that he was putting all of John Pipers books, R.C. sproul’s books and copies of all of the great preachers up in storage. So that in a hundred years his great grandchildren could find them and stand on the backs of those men like they stood on the backs of Owen and Spurgeon lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Making millions by not having any kind of original thoughts. Just translating it for a different generation. :koolaid

  • Stunned

    Defender, everything I ever learned in history points to Luther being responsible for the deaths/murders of thousands. Wikipedia is far from the first to state such a thing.

    Kind of tragic, ain’t it?

    On another sad note:

    After multiple appeals were continually rejected by Mark [Driscoll] and Jamie [Munson], we discreetly implored some local and then national leaders, who Mark said he respected, to help us, including John Piper and C.J. Mahaney. No one was willing to get involved. I was shocked and heartbroken again. You’re kidding? The whole Body of Christ and no one is willing to step in, judge the matter, and attempt to make things right? How can Matthew 18 be carried out if not one Christian leader will stand in to bring peace and reconciliation? (Paul Petry, “To the Elders of Mars Hill Church,” October 25, 2007)

    I am pretty much done being disappointed with so called Christian leaders. Maybe because I am learning more and more that we should have no leader but the Holy Spirit and that none of us should be lifted higher than each other. But come on! Letting others know the truth about someone doing wrong and being a hypocrite? Children know how/when to speak out. Why don’t grown men?

  • Persona

    Argus 82

    One possible reason for the shut-down of comments on the SGM blog could be in preparation for the SGM report about the AoR results. I hardly expect them to publish an unedited version at this point. They are likely expecting a critical backlash and don’t want to deal with it.

    I wish they would all be man enough to face the music of the AoR. Will they yet again waste the hard-earned money from the people who entrusted it to them? If they do, I hope it results in a quick cut-off of future funds.

  • Defender

    Now that picture is funny!

    (Double humble I guess?)

  • Defender

    Thanks Tom.

    Yeah, I too want to take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, but it’s a start for research.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    It’s not just CJ/SGM that God’s exposing…and I’m sure nobody here is surprised.

    Explains why so many of these guys have been supporting/defending CJ. Birds of a feather…

  • Tom


    Yeah it’s Wikipedia, but it’s a good jumping point for further research.

  • Bridget

    You all do realize that Mark Driscoll has stated in the past that he looked to CJ as his mentor. I have been watching this all unfold for a month with Driscoll. It is another sad story of “authority” run amuck in the name of God. But go look around at some of the RBD church websites and read up on their membership agreements. SGM probably feels behind in “their”‘game plan.

    Membership agreements won’t fix what ails these churches.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Another word from Praise Warrior from SGM Refuge:

    ["What ever happened to believing in miracles?

    From Praise Warrior

    Do you ever wonder if a story like SGM’s has a happy ending? What would it take to turn the ship around? Are we just all resigned to shake our heads and be sad at what could have been different?

    The silence right now is deafening. No communication is bad communication. What would it take for a few proud men to stand down and say some right words to those whose lives were so affected:

    “This happened on our watch and we are here to take responsibility.”

    What about TRUE humility? CJ, Dave and others crucifying your own reputation and making things right with the many who have felt compelled to leave? Maybe you just feel trapped and so deep in it that picking up and moving the whole operation to Louisville seems easier. Taking the easy way isn’t always the easy way, guys. How about doing the right thing?

    We are not holding our breath. You haven’t really listened well to us so chances are you won’t listen to us now, but here goes.

    Why don’t you go to all those who clearly you have offended and caused to stumble and invite them into a new and different dialogue – one that is not controlled and monitored to the nth degree? Imagine this: those of us who felt uncomfortable with the AOR process still exist as those you have sinned against. Take your time. Years if you have to. Dare I suggest that you might win your brothers and sisters back?

    Some have clearly been so devastated that it would be miraculous to ever see them back again but what ever happened to believing in miracles?

    Spend your last years fulfilling the two greatest commandments to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe that includes us. Don’t haul trucks out of town and leave us in the dust. That’s not fair nor is it just.

    You busy yourselves with your mission while those of us who partnered with you in the Gospel are out here struggling, shipwrecked, abandoned by you. Many of us have gone on with our lives but do you think it might mean something for us to hear you say you are sorry without hesitation? Without qualifications? Without reservation?

    It has been said that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Ain’t that the truth?

    Here’s a novel concept – we didn’t abandon you – maybe you could consider that you abandoned us.

    Now you gather in your stronghold in Riverdale, Maryland and make plans together that clearly leave your flagship churches in the dust.

    This is just wrong.

    So much teaching over the years about “finishing well” – is this how it looks? We appeal to you – come back to the mess you have left and make things right. You might not have much but we would truly know you love us and you would have integrity.

    Rather than offer you complaints, here are some suggested solutions:

    · Stop your speaking engagements. Come back home and clean up the mess. We are pretty sure there are piles of it in every corner.

    · Call a Gaithersburg council and meet at Covenant Life Church. Invite your estranged family. Let someone other than yourselves facilitate it. Someone like Joshua.

    · Gather around you those of us who still care about you yet aren’t your first pick at getting through this. Maybe you will find a few approaches you haven’t taken could actually be useful. Maybe you will find that we are loving people who aren’t your hateful enemies loaded with misconceptions.

    · The RBDs (Reformed Big Dogs) like Mohler, Duncan, etc don’t know you like we do.

    · Take time to go to answer the questions on these blogs.

    · Go back and answer Brent Detwiler’s tome. If there are accuracies in there and God is trying to call these to your attention, do you think you should maybe listen to them and stop shooting the messenger?

    · Put your thinking in writing. State publicly where you are wrong.

    · Go back to each of the leaders and their wives that used to be among you. Listen AGAIN.

    · Study the attrition rate from your church plants. Let that instruct you.

    · A watching world may benefit from hearing about a group of leaders who say “We blew it in so many ways and we have come back to do whatever it takes to make things right.”

    · Instead of hiring AOR, why don’t you hire a few believers who love you who might become the band of brothers God uses to start the search and rescue mission you should have been engaged in all along.

    We remember when the WWJD? campaign first hit the stage. (You had things to say about it.) Well, it is a good question. What would Jesus do?

    What DID Jesus do?

    Did He retreat to Riverdale? Did He change headquarters for a new start? No. We know what He did. He stayed with his band of brothers. He took off his outer garment, made Himself low and began washing the feet of his disciples he loved. He celebrated Passover with them.

    How would it feel to all be gathered right now together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together? Would it be hard for you to look in our faces and take the bread and the cup in good conscience? Might there be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a gathering like that?

    Maybe you could go to your brothers and sisters one by one and look into their eyes and weep with them.

    Is there any possibility of a night like that? Unplanned, uncontrolled. Just love? Maybe it would go on for another night or a week or a month or years or never stop until Jesus comes again. Maybe true revival would break out.

    True and humble leadership is from the bottom up not the top down.

    Any other suggestions out there for SGM leaders in hiding?"]

    Praise Warrior, I hope you don’t mind… I just thought it was so good!

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Argus 82:


    :clap :clap :clap

  • Defender

    2+2=4 again,
    You said:

    Luther advised the German princes in his day to deal with a peasant revolt of 130,000 people. He told them to simply kill them all, which they did.

    Please supply documentation to your assertion.
    I have never heard that before.
    In fact, it contradicts everything I have ever heard about Luther.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    The Wartburg Watch posted the Petry’s story a couple of weeks ago and another ex-Mars Hill pastor’s (Bent Meyer) before that. The stories really do sound similar to many shared here and at SGM Refuge. Alarming to me how similar CJ and Mark are in their leadership personalities. Too much power and celebrity status!

  • Argus

    For facedown2000 re. 63:

    Please don’t read too much in to the blog comments shutting down. I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t look good, but I also know there’s some other stuff going on behind the scenes. I’m not at liberty to reveal any more information than that, but I would encourage charitable judgment for now. I don’t know the full story, but I don’t think there’s a secret conspiracy to stifle comment.

    You are probably a nice, well-meaning person, and you may well have some insider info. You may be completely correct about that. (Who knows? Maybe the spin jockeys got fed up with feeling slimy and quit.) However, I am past the point where that cuts it with me. Sorry. I mean no disrespect, and it is nothing personal.

    I am just fed up with a group that does whatever mysterious things they please while the rest of us are always ‘encouraged’ to extend only charitable judgment and not to read anything into SGM’s unilateral actions.

    I am just fed up with a group that so tightly controls the flow of information that the masses must hope for a clue from someone who happens to know some ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff.

    I am fed up with having things that impact my life withheld from me because others are ‘not at liberty’ to say anything that might be perceived as gossip and slander by SGM’s distorted definitions.

    I am fed up with being told what I must think by others who won’t disclose any of the process but presume to tell me I must be satisfied with the outcome or else.

    When a small group of people act together behind the scenes, fail to disclose what or why, and issue some weak explanation that is patently different from the full truth, that pretty much defines a secret conspiracy.

    And they did in fact stifle comment.

    And maybe the reason it doesn’t look good is because it isn’t.

    As one who spent serious time and prayer making comments that should have been heeded instead of erased, I resent it.

    And, as I said, to know why they did it, maybe just look at the result — a nicely sanitized public image for the general public.

    If there is any other reason, SGM needs to be honest about it, because they have already overspent any trust extended to them.

  • “Lost in (cyber) Space” said,

    Brent has a new post up drawing the similarities between CJ and Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill.

    I clicked on over to the blog run by the ex-Mars Hill pastor and am reading his wife’s version of their story. I’m only on page 4 of the 14-page document, but wow – the parallels are uncanny!

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Brent has a new post up drawing the similarities between CJ and Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill.


  • 2+2=4 again

    Been There 71,72, You make some great points and observations and you’re right about not making blanket statements! I do differ with you in some areas regarding Reformed theology, however. Luther and Calvin took so much of their thinking from the Catholic church/culture in which they were brought up. The Catholics had adopted the figurative method of interpretation, which they had gotten from the Greek traditions in Rome. Luther and Calvin were virulently anti-Semitic, Hitler often quoted Luther and used his words to murder 6 million Jews, not counting millions of others, including Christians. Luther advised the German princes in his day to deal with a peasant revolt of 130,000 people. He told them to simply kill them all, which they did. Calvin was responsible directly and indirectly for the deaths and persecution of many thousands while in power in Geneva. Reformed theology has MUCH good in it, but it came about partly as a way to wrest power and control from the Catholic church and re-appropriate it. Scripture tells us of the priesthood of all believers, that we are to have mercy on Israel and not be arrogant against it,and to take God’s words at face value. He tells us plainly in Scripture of the times He is speaking figuratively. Churches that over step their boundaries in these or other areas are going to have problems. Doctrine directly influences behavior, imo.

  • Muckraker

    ReformedGuy @16 Also, just wanted to add, in my short 9-ish months of reading and commenting, I have met and conversed with numerous folks in and formerly in SGM who READ and DON’T COMMENT.

    Literally, each person is in a different place emotionally and spiritually. Some benefit from commenting and laying it all out there with their thoughts and opinions–and find healing from that–and others desire to just watch and learn and think about it all, without commenting. It is much like (and is a type of) grieving–everyone grieves differently.

  • Muckraker

    relative @74

    I honestly see this internet age as another tool God is using for the “truth to set us free” and to prevent abusive, controlling, wayward leaders from having free reign. I see this as Church history being played out in real time….God is just. He will purify his bride.

    :clap :goodpost

  • Happymom

    Kris said in #68,

    “But again, if so, how can they sleep at night, knowing that God knows and is going to ask them about it someday?”

    And that same question could be asked of the Fairfax staff regarding Noel’s Story, Taylor’s Story & Wallace’s Story.

    I am so very sorry.

  • relative

    Just to add my voice to newbie’s question. I read here almost daily, but rarely post. (maybe I have posted three or four times in my life.) I started researching sgm after i began to have serious concerns for the well being of my relative involved. I have even hesitated to give any other specific details for fear that my relative would recognize my post and become further estranged from me.

    Anyway, that fear has subsided some now that they have “seen the light” and opted to leave sgm and join a more “normal, healthy” church.

    I am fascinated at how this story is unfolding – not in the “gossipy” way one might assume, being an outsider to sgm – but being a true lover of God and fully confident in his justice, mercy, compassion and the fact that he is the champion of the oppressed and will not be mocked. I fear that many sgm leaders, in their belief and assertion that they “stand in the stead of God” have truly slandered, misrepresented and made a mockery of the true character and nature of God. He will not be mocked. I honestly see this internet age as another tool God is using for the “truth to set us free” and to prevent abusive, controlling, wayward leaders from having free reign. I see this as Church history being played out in real time.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that sgm as an entity is that big or famous outside of the RBD-sect. But we are seeing this kind of story repeated throughout many different denominations: oppressive controlling leaders, wounded members, internet voices popping up, light being shed into the darkness, leadership embarassment, and (hopefully) change. God is just. He will purify his bride.

  • Persona

    CLCya 55

    The ‘Invest and Invite’ series was given in 2005. It was customary to devote at least one series a year to the topic of evangelism by the stable of teaching-pastors. Unfortunately, the messages usually resulted in little change in the practice of evangelism at CLC; many words, mixed with good intentions.

    The last time I remember widespread, congregational evangelistic activity at CLC, was about 30 years ago. During the 80’s, the whole congregation was trained by a gifted evangelist, Francis Anfuso. We would then go door to door to share the Good News with neighbors.

    Evangelism was very much a focus back then. Larry gave the primary inspiration. I remember CJ lament that he was not as effectual as Larry was at this and, I think that was true.

    During those years there was also more freedom and encouragement to exercise your gifts or callings and the pastors were a lot more open to hear new ideas and to allow members to spearhead the ministries they had passion for.

    Of course, there was still a high degree of control and heavy-handed shepherding into the private lives of members, who were primarily single. But, we were also strongly encouraged to share our faith with others in ‘friendship evangelism.’

  • Truth Be Told

    Res Ipsa #65

    57 went on the plant. Not even the pastors remained. 2 left still in SGM.

  • BeenThere

    SGM appears to have come along at just the right time and really capitalized on the longing for all these movements to come together and form what could be known as the “perfect” blend. What really saddens me is that it appears SGM has set things back rather than moving the ball forward.

    I said that my own personal experiences have taught me not to make blanket statements of different groups. So it troubles me when I read what appear to be sweeping statements regarding Reformed doctrine and those who hold to it. Bringing this around to the topic at hand let me say that the real problems at SGM appear to have nothing to do with their doctrine and everything to do with their Church Polity. I’ve seen the same thing in Charismatic and Baptist circles and at times much worse. I think Kris made the point that the NT doesn’t spend a lot of time hammering out what is to be the perfect church governance. I think one reason for that is it is suppose to be flexible based on the different local groups. What works for some may not work for others depending on the various make-up of the congregations and the particular natural giftings of the leadership there. There is always a natural tendency in fallen man to try and consolidate power to himself. And throughout history there is been a tendency to centralize Christian life around the physical institution of the church. Both of these tendencies are destructive and counter-productive.

    As I’ve read many of the threads and comments here I find myself thinking over and over again: “What SGM appears to represent on paper is the direction we need to go (balance of Continuationst Experience with Reformed Doctrine), but they’ve been such a poor representative that it has harmed the cause more than helped it.” I really do believe we need churches that emphasize solid Theological teaching while at the same time helping people to live it out in a very real Spirt-Filled manner. But from this point will any church that has this focus have to explain how they aren’t like SGM? Will any church or movement that has these emphasis be automatically lumped into SGM and assumed to have their weaknesses? I certainly hope not.

    As I’ve looked out across history it appears that mankind learns best by trial and error and learning what NOT to do. Maybe SGM is a logical step along that progression. The different movements have taught us a lot of what not to do, and now we know that just putting them all together on paper is not enough. You can’t just have right beliefs, but you’ve got to carry those beliefs out in a way that doesn’t consolidate power around a man or an institution. The physical and organizational church has to be a conduit and not a final destination. If I were to look at the health of a church I’d look more at its polity and governance policies than anything else. Of course I’d want them to be Bible Believing and have the basics right, but if they’re not totally Reformed or thoroughly Continuationist that’s ok. The key is are they putting the Bible first and letting their beliefs be dictated by what they see in God’s Word. If they’ve got the right attitude then God can adjust doctrine, but if their approach is to build their own Kingdom instead of God’s then it doesn’t matter what they believe.

  • BeenThere

    I’ve been a lurker lately, but I enjoy reading the various comments and perspectives. I haven’t posted very much so I put a lot of my thoughts from the last couple of months reading here into a couple of posts. My background was Baptist for the first 21 years of my life, and then I spent the next 12 years as a Charismatic. I embraced Reformed Theology rather slowly starting in around 2000 and over time became more and more Reformed in my core Theology without losing the evangelical and evangelistic emphasis of my Baptist days and without losing my continuationist views on the gifts.

    I think being among so many different groups has helped me to not be so critical of other Christians that I disagree with. I’ve seen strong committed Christians in various camps, and I’ve learned not to make blanket statements. I would often tell my Charismatic friends that during my Baptist days I saw many a believer who exhibited a spirit filled life even though they never spoke in tongues. Those who had only been exposed to Charismatic churches and believers would look at me like I was strange when I’d say this. In my early Charismatic days I went to a Word of Faith church while I was in the Air Force, and all in all it was a really good church. The pastor had grew up in a Baptist environment, and most of his sermons were Biblically based. They didn’t get into the extremes of what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel, and most of the members were just sincere Christians trying to live a Christ-like life. So even though I agree with many of the valid criticisms of the “prosperity gospel” I’m not as quick to make blanket statements and heap loads of criticism on anyone who may be associated with a Word of Faith kind of church. Of course I have many Theological differences with them, but I know from experience that many of them love Jesus just as much as I do.

    As someone who has gone through my own progression of beliefs and views I have come to believe that the exposure I’ve had and in the order that I had is something that I believe is going to become more and more common. Over the past 50 years the most prominent churches in the south and mid-west have been Baptist. As the 70’s and 80’s came along many believers were looking for a more meaningful and emotional experience to give “life” to their doctrine. They knew about Jesus but found themselves wanting to experience a personal relationship with him. The Charismatic movement seemed to be a natural segway for them. Over the last 10 years I think many in the Charismatic movement and in Charismatic type churches have seen a lot of the excesses and although they enjoy the extra energy and liveliness of a continuationist atmosphere they also want some depth and solid Biblical teaching. I remember 12 years ago that you’d see conversations popping up everywhere about why we couldn’t have both an atmosphere of freedom in the Holy Spirit AND sound Biblical doctrine. It seemed you always had to pick between the two.

    Continued below..

  • 2+2=4 again

    Roadwork-66, Thank you very much for sharing a little of your story. I think many of us have had difficult childhoods, and sadly, our non-healthy upbringings predisposed us to SGM type churches and other warped relationships. The Lord loves you so much, you are so precious to Him and He has just used you, I am sure, to comfort and encourage others who may have experienced similar trials. You are right about His judgement being fair, but I am so thankful that His mercy is even greater. God bless you.

  • Oswald

    Roadwork #66 — Thanks for sharing your heart and soul… praying for you to know the caring of the Shepherd who carries injured lambs.
    This is one of those times when there is just nothing else to say.

  • Roadwork,

    Thank you for taking us on a detour and sharing that bit of your past. I don’t mean to sound all Bill Clinton, but the words that keep coming to mind are, “I feel your pain.” As I read your words, I really do feel the pain that you have experienced, and although it sounds like you have come through strong and healed in some ways, the pain still comes through as well.

    I think you are exactly right in what you say about the SGM leaders who contributed to “exCLCer’s” situation. I do not know how they can live with themselves, actually. Yes, I have gotten various emails from people wanting to explain the “other side” of that situation – how John L and others were actually trying hard to help and were going with the “more stable” party, etc., etc. I have been more than well-informed about the supposed “untold facts” about “exCLCer’sMom.”

    But you know, it really doesn’t matter how murky that situation might actually have been. Even if there were no clear-cut solutions to the problems, even if it’s true that the SGM leaders involved supposedly did their best, the end result is that there are still people out there who believe they were harmed by these leaders’ decisions…and consequently, I think the leaders ought to do everything in their power – whatever it takes – to make things right…to genuinely and humbly repent and apologize. To say, “You know, we were dumb, we didn’t know, we’re so sorry, we never should have let things get to where they got, we wish we would have done things differently, please forgive us!”

    It seems obvious to me that this is what they ought to do. It doesn’t make any sense that they haven’t done this yet…unless their friends at Gamon & Grange have advised them not to…

    But again, if so, how can they sleep at night, knowing that God knows and is going to ask them about it someday?

  • Nickname

    Argus #60 — Don’t know if James McD took Ceej’s advice about not allowing blog comments, but he has pretty much cloned SGM with his Harvest Bible Chapels. A well-established church in NC actually VOTED to become part of this group — then found they had voted their voting rights away. Most of the old members voted with their feet, and it looks like Harvest is scratching its proverbial head wondering why people in the Bible Belt who’ve been Christians and gone to church for years are no longer stampeding into their services.

    Res Ipsa — I don’t know the exact numbers, but EARLY in the process, there seemed to me a fair amount of attrition in the church planting team in my former SGM. Some, I believe, were disappointed and disillusioned due to personal circumstances and new jobs not working out. Others stuck around for years, but exited last year after ten years of pleading for honestly and openness. My take is that, among the church planting team that I observed (and it was only one) there were people who joined the church plant in order to get away from something, not necessarily because they wanted to start something, and ended up realizing that you really cannot leave Kansas unless God leads you to the Promised Land. (Groan…I love mixed metaphors…)

    When it comes to people who post, don’t post, start posting, then stop — I think it’s a process, and these days, I’m hoping that many of the people who used to post often are now experiencing freedom from the frustration they felt when the wider SGM world knew nothing of the problems. That has been my experience — sort of like Paul Revere on his ride — now it’s time for some of us to get off the horse and rest a little. But others are just now mounting up. I’m grateful to Kris and Guy, and Jim and Carole, for persevering with all (well, most) of us who have ridden through.


  • Roadwork

    A detour for a moment…
    In the previous post #299 exCLCer wrote:

    If god is willing to prevent evil, but not able – then he is not omnipotent. If he able, but not willing – then he is malevolent.
    If he is both able and willing – but does not prevent evil -then whence cometh evil?
    And if he neither able nor willing- then why call him a god?

    I would agree with you except… I can recall a night in a McDonald’s parking lot where my life was changed. I wasn’t looking for God, religion, church or anything like that. I was just a young man being crushed by life’s circumstances.

    I know what I was. A high school dropout involved with alcohol, drugs, etc. and feeling trapped by what life had handed me at that time.

    As far as abusive situations… While not to the extent of many, let me describe some of the things as I was growing up: My father frequently physically beat my mother. Somewhere around 10-12 years-old, I was in bed listening to yet another fight and beating. My mother ran into my room hoping, I believe, that my father wouldn’t continue to beat her while in my bedroom. I recall my mother falling on top of me with my father continuing to beat her as I hid under the covers. There are many other stories like this (years worth) and they involve alcohol, the physical abuse of my mother and even sometimes firearms. I never recall my father saying he loved me. I never recall my father hugging me. I remember being in 4th grade and thinking about signing up for baseball because that’s what the other kids were doing. When I received the application and discovered there was a fee required, I threw the application away thinking that there was no way my father was going to pay for me to do anything. I left his home when I was 16 and never looked back. When he passed away 26 years ago, his widow (formerly the married women next door), informed me that it was his wish that I receive nothing.

    I never told anyone about the things that went on in our house as the stories were so unbelievable. (He also had the house “bugged”.) Once I pass on, these stories will die with me never to be told. There are those that would say that “time heals all wounds”. I believe that to be false. I’m past my best years now and while the pain may have dulled, it’s still there and it continues to affect me to this day, occasionally sending me into some dark places. There are a lot of long stories here and I still have a hard time talking about it because I just don’t want to go there.

    It’s also interesting that while I can remember well some details from my earlier childhood, I have many later years that I’ve blocked out totally.

    I was in my late teens and considered myself a “survivor”. Meaning that, it didn’t matter what people did to me, I was going to survive.

    And then, in my early 20’s I was changed.

    Why does this matter? I could have wished justice for the things my father did. I would have liked to have a “normal” childhood, whatever that means. However, this thought gets my attention: The same God that had such exacting demands for righteous as seen in the O.T. also demands exacting punishment for wrongdoing. Whatever punishment my father is now experiencing is far more severe and appropriate than anything I could ever imagine. There are times even now, that when I am in pain, I believe that God reminds my father that the pain is due to his actions. My tears do not go unheard.

    And while there is amazing grace in the N.T, you will also find some pretty hard lines drawn that you just can’t tiptoe around. The parable of the sheep and the goats, the millstone, the list of those that will not inherit the Kingdom of God all come to mind. While yes, there is grace, it’s also a reminder that true faith will be shown by their works.

    These are some pretty significant passages that suggest that judgment will be appropriated to those that seemingly profess a faith that isn’t demonstrated by a life that accompanies that faith.

    How might this affect you? Well, if I were in SGM leadership and such stories as yours were allowed on my watch, I should be very, very afraid.

    As it says in Luke 12, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

    And while you may say that at this time in your life you do not fear God, it would also seem that a lot of SGM leaders and pastors do not fear God either.

  • Res Ipsa

    Now that stats has become an issue, maybe some of you can help me with this question. Our church planting team (Charlotte) was comprised of about 40 adults. To the best of my knowledge, five of those adults remain in a SGM church, which is about an 88% attrition rate.

    If there are folks from other SGM church planting teams on here, was your experience similar? Or is this unique to Charlotte?

  • facedown2000


    You can examine the archives yourself at:*/

  • facedown2000

    Please don’t read too much in to the blog comments shutting down. I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t look good, but I also know there’s some other stuff going on behind the scenes. I’m not at liberty to reveal any more information than that, but I would encourage charitable judgment for now. I don’t know the full story, but I don’t think there’s a secret conspiracy to stifle comment.

  • SMP

    Kris, In reference to your post #37:

    There is something so unusual about these pastors who choose to “help” those who are estranged from family. The process is full of meetings where the control is undeniable and stifling. The desire to reconcile sons and daughters to parents and grandparents is not really truth-filled as it just “looks good” for the person/persons that remain in SGM. They do not really desire relationship with anyone outside of their “bubble.”

    Just like the wives who are “encouraged” to stay with abusive husbands because divorce doesn’t look good for the SGM church individually. The families that are separated from each other as you described are so broken there isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t ache to be with their family. Sometimes we even are the ones that brought family members to SGM and then after leaving ourselves lose our loved ones to the “monster.”

    That monster steals our families and kills and destroys our path to leading normal lives.
    Normal= Everyone is different and uniquely made by God, where we forebear and disagree with integrity and love one another regardless of where are walk with the Lord is.

    We have confronted our pastor to help us… to please DO something to encourage families (OUR family) to love us, desire our company, be delighted that God gave us all to each other as a gift, no matter where we go to church. He doesn’t.

    Perhaps the pastor likes it this way. Perhaps we are not the company that he would choose for his proteges. But these pastors are the ones that TAUGHT us so how bad can we be after two decades of THEIR teaching? You would think that would count for something and that unconditional love would be the agenda.

    My entire family’s life has been shattered and as Stunned said there are so many of us from “coast to coast.” I am so grateful for the blogs and REFORMED GUY, if you are still reading….It took me 3 1/2 years to post.
    Thanks for reading when you can, Kris. You are a blessing to us all….truely!

  • Happymom

    Kris said: #31

    “Or, seek out an interview with an Ambassadors of Reconciliation staffer and ask how their recent SGM project compares to anything else they’ve ever done.”

    And while you’re at it, REFORMED GUY, ask AoR how many SGM pastors turned down assistance from AoR.

  • Argus

    This thing with SGM closing blog comments needs to be highlighted.

    Definitely C.J. is getting his way and exerting his style of leadership..

    In an old Gospel Coalition video (, James McDonald, interviewing Mahaney, says, “O.K. C.J., so I get this comment on my blog the other day. I mean why do I even take comments on my blog? I mean who is this person writing this?”

    Mahaney replies, “I would recommend you NOT take comments on your blog, but that’s another issue…”

    At the height of Mahaney-gate, SGM opened their blog to comments, though the comments were tightly moderated by an underling and the answers were often patronizing deflections. As things progressed and C.J.’s status as leader became reaffirmed, fewer and fewer comments appeared.

    It is almost as if there were no longer any need to pretend to be all nice, caring, and open,no longer any need to mollify the masses, because their opinion no longer mattered.

    Now, with C.J. once again firmly entrenched (or is that, enthroned?) and Dave Harvey relegated to the back office, SGM once again shuts down the ability to comment on blog posts, using a pretext of lack of staffing.

    Really? Okay, let us assume they are short-staffed, what with Harvey stepping back a bit and everybody else busy either packing up to move or scrambling to find another job.

    Being busy and short-staffed doesn’t necessarily have to mean shutting down comments. After all, they are still writing blog posts; in fact, the latest one announced the launch of a brand new website for Sovereign Grace Music, making it easier to purchase SGM music.

    Priorities, people! I guess that’s one way to offset decreased financial receipts.

    No, what turning off comments really shows is that SGM does not prioritize hearing what members might have to say. They not only do not prioritize, they do not care. Actually, take it farther — they not only don’t care to hear what the members have to say, but they very much want NOT to hear.

    Even so, SGM, why lie? Becasue you certainly just did, in print, for the world to see.

    Too busy to leave comments open? Seriously?
    Maybe, if we accept your premise that all comments must be moderated to pieces by some sort of Orwellian Disinformation Bureau.

    But NOT too busy, apparently, to take the time to scrub the site clean, to eliminate all comments completely.

    Clearly, that move had NOTHING to do with being busy or understaffed, or even needing to shift staff to align with your priorities. (Selling music?)

    It had to do with wiping the slate of unpleasant and embarrassing reminders of “C.J.’s fiery trial” now that he has vanquished his foes and moved on to other things.

    Swat away those pesky ‘little people’ with their annoying questions and comments. Click. Done!

    What I want to know is this: Are entire blog posts missing? I did not memorize or archive the site, but it certainly does look awfully cleaned up to me.

    Scroll back through the posts for a few months or more. Try to think about how it would appear to someone who didn’t know any better. SGM surely does look pretty wonderful if you do. See how they humbly and gracefully dealt with a minor issue from a disgruntled former employee there? Wow, such a minor charge and they took it seriously. but, thankfully, they did not let it distract them from the important work of the mission.

    Please, can anyone verify whether or not any posts have disappeared in the ‘staffing problem’ lately?

  • Defender

    Oh Gee Whizz…
    I meant to post a link in case anybody wanted to “hear” the sermon…

    (Sorry, I gotta get some sleep.)

  • Defender

    I pulled the trigger too fast…
    I was responding specifically to Kris’ “Jesus-plus” comments.

    Paul talks about that in other places in his letters also.

    I think this warning shows up so many times in the NT because it was, is, and will be a common issue in the Church.

    SGM is just another example….

    Also, I was thinking about the SGM model of moving into a place like Colorado Springs. It makes me think about a corporation wanting to move a franchise into a market where there will be a good return on their investment.
    I don’t think THAT is what Jesus had in mind for the expansion of His Kingdom.

  • Defender

    All Right Kris… Re: Your Comment #45

    I’ve been pondering for three days now, a portion of the sermon preached at our church last Sunday. That is, I’ve been thinking of posting a portion of it here, and your comment hits on what was being preached.
    So, with your permission, I’ll copy-paste it it here from the pastor’s notes published on the church’s website.

    From a Sermon on Colossians 2:18-23 Titled “Guard your Treasure”
    “Supremacy & Sufficiency of Christ”
    April 1, 2012

    Why we need to defend our freedom
    Whatever the exact nature of the threat, Christian freedom was at stake.7 Our freedom in Christ is a most precious treasure to be guarded. Consider how Christ has set us free and what it means.
    – Christ has set us free from sin and its penalty; we are called to live in that freedom and never to use our freedom as a cover up for returning to sin.
    – We are to guard this freedom as a great treasure. Any who want to tell us we don’t have enough freedom are only lying to us and want to enslave us to their sins.8
    – We are free from putting any confidence in our works for salvation or sanctification.
    – We are free to endure evil and enjoy good as working together for our salvation.
    – We are free to enjoy Christ with all the abandon that a bride enjoys with her husband!9
    Our freedom must be treasured because it is anchored in the work of the cross where all our sin was “swallowed up by the righteousness of Christ.”10 The defense of our freedom in Christ is a work of faith in the working of God (v. 12). False teachers, whether at Colossae or America, want to steal this freedom by three main tactics: subjugating believers by legalism, enslaving us through a fascination with mysticism, or cheat us by the appeal of self-salvation.
    Paul gives two alerts: don’t let anyone judge you (v. 16); don’t let anyone defraud you (v. 18). He’s warning us to guard the treasure of our freedom in Christ.
    Don’t let anyone judge you: Beware of legalism (vv. 16-17)
    The subtle danger that Paul’s letter [to the Colossians] exposes is this: the false teachers didn’t deny Christ outright. He was still “in the picture.” What they wanted the believers to do was to add something to his work. The mention of food and drink, festivals, new moons and Sabbaths hints that the false teachers may have taken a page out of the Judaizers play book. They insisted that by observing these regulations they will make their way into spiritual fullness; the rules will make them more pure and grow in holiness.

    The OT laws did regulate diet, yearly cycles of celebrations and so on. The reason God put these regulations in place was to teach his OT people that they were to be distinct from the nations – a nation of priests and a light of the knowledge of God in the world. As late as the time of Peter’s vision on the rooftop of a friend in Joppa, the Jewish Christians were observing these laws.11

    That event was significant because the vision revealed the end of that period in Christ. Christians – Jewish or Gentile – were free from those regulations as a way of relating to God. Paul concluded that food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do” (1 Cor 8:8).

    But notice what Paul says about this. It is not that food or drink or days or festivals are the problem. The problem is letting others judge a believer’s quality of spiritual life on the basis of doing or not doing these things. This was a regular problem creeping into the early church. Some Christians, who thought they were more mature and more spiritual, would try to influence other Christians by taking them to task over these issues.12

    Paul attempted a correction of this attitude in the church at Rome by saying,
    Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom 14:3-4)

    Also, notice that Paul ties these OT regulations to “shadows” (v. 17) and “appearances of wisdom” (v. 23) which will “perish” (v. 22). In other words, they lack the power that is found only in Christ (v. 17b). The false teachers were critical of the Colossian believers for trusting only in Christ. They argued that if the believers added the observation of rules, they would become the spiritual elite. The legalistic teaching of the false teachers diminished the accomplishments of Christ (really, a denial), made observance of religious rules the way to measure spirituality, and killed joy.

    A biblical definition of legalism
    At this point, it is important to define legalism, a word that sometimes gets thrown around carelessly. The term has two applications that guard us from unbiblical definitions. The NT does not use the term but it is clear that it was a problem. The first definition treats biblical standards of conduct as necessary for salvation. In our own human power, we earn God’s favor by ethical or godly behavior without relying on God’s grace in Christ. Moral behaviorism is a form of unbelief and legalism.
    The second application is erecting specific requirements of conduct beyond the teaching of Scripture and making compliance with them the way a believer is qualified for full participation in a local church.

    Legalism’s root: unbelief
    These two forms of legalism share unbelief as the common denominator – unbelief in regard to God who works in us to do his good pleasure (Phil 2:12, 13) and unbelief in relation to others that God will make his will known to them and incline them to it (Phil 3:15). Paul confidently entrusts the growth of holiness in a church to God. Legalists confidently entrust the growth of holiness in a church to their criticism and judgmentalism.

    7Many books and articles have been written to identify the “Colossian heresy.” There are numerous opinions as to the exact nature of the heresies confronting the church. Many of the opinions come from this portion of the letter. And many are in the same “ballpark.” But because they can’t be identified with absolute certainty, we have to think more broadly about the nature of the dangers. Paul himself has done this by refraining from a detailed deconstruction of the heresies. Instead, he emphasizes what the Colossians already have in Christ, which the false teachers would steal away from them if they are successful.
    82 Cor 3:17; Gal 2:4; 5:1, 13; 1 Pet 2:16; 2 Pet 2:19.
    9These ideas come from Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003).
    10Ibid., 32.
    11See Acts 10.
    12See Rom 2:1, 3; 1 Cor 10:29.

    I thought I’d share this here now cuz I think it is germane to our conversation….

    Thanks Kris

  • A Kindred Spirit


    What did you do with the folks that never accepted an invite to church or engaged in discussions about their beliefs? Just curious.

    When we were “in” AMWAY, we were told to do something similar. It felt like we were using people – establishing a “friendship” to get them in AMWAY. When they didn’t get “in”, most AMWAY distributors dropped them like a hot potato.

  • CLCya

    Persona #50 – I don’t know when you left CLC. Were you there for the “Invest and Invite” series? From what I remember of it, Josh talked about investing time in unbelievers’ lives first, being a friend to them, then inviting them to church and engaging them in discussions about their beliefs. If you were there for that series, what was your take on it?

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    I think one of the biggest hindrances to member-led evangelism now is that we don’t feel comfortable inviting anyone to our SGM church. We are not sure what we would be bringing them into. Even before Brent’s docs came out, we were struggling with the legalism, lack of joy, and distance from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our church meetings. I never felt like my leaders were trying to control the evangelism in the church, but I never heard personal testimonies of the leaders leading people to Christ. I think that sent a “message” to the members that it was not a priority. I may be very wrong, but that is my perspective. I think we felt we were fulfilling the Great Commission by contributing to the SGM church planting mission and sending off members to be a part of the church plants. Also, if we served at Alpha, that was also our contribution to evangelism. It has been so long since I have heard encouragement from the pastors to go out and share the gospel with our neighbors. We used to be so expectant, too, believing that God was going to lead us and open doors to witness. I don’t know too many people in my church that walk around expecting the Holy Spirit to lead them to someone whom He has prepared to hear the gospel.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I know sometimes there are people who come here who are not currently or were not members, but who have close family members who are in SGM. These mothers or children come here to try to understand the change that has taken place in their family members. To understand why they have been cut out of their relatives lives. They are some really lovely people. I have met some of them. Sadly, this is a much more common occurence in SGM than you might know. I have literally met mothers from Washington state to Florida, who mourn for their children and long to be let back into their lives and into their grandchildren’s lives. The numbers on this situation, are tragically high, as well. Siblings who are both believers, who love God, who walk with God, being cut off, merely because they have chosen to worship elsewhere.

    Stunned, thanks for sharing that. I would love to talk with you some time about your findings.

  • Bridget

    Persona @ 50 –

    Your experience is very disheartening to hear. I don’t know how it made you feel then or now. What I hear is pastors, by their actions and decisions, telling you that Christ did not do a good work in your life; that you cannot be trusted; that God will not complete the work he began in you. In fact, what you shared conveys to me that only pastors can do anything worthwhile and members can sit in the pew, listen, obey, and give money. I hope you don’t feel like that now! – sheesh :bang

  • Bridget

    Lost@48 –

    :clap :clap

    BTW – Jesus never gave us the Westminster C. He gave us himself and then the Holy Spirit.

  • Persona

    Kris 45

    “But again, if the majority of new members are simply longtime Christians from other churches, than the gospel the SGM church is preaching cannot be simply about Jesus and His generic Church. It’s about something else.”

    If SGM churches didn’t steal most of their members from other churches there might be no other way for them to grow a church! Their evangelism strategy is that flawed!

    To understand some of the fear-based and/or pride-based foundations of SGM-built churches you must look at what the leaders do, not only what they say.

    For instance, CLC pastors say they want to actively spread the Gospel. They might even say that is their PRIMARY goal.

    But, when asked, at one of the last CLC Family meetings that allowed an open-mic Q&A time, not one pastor could say they had a personal evangelism plan.

    When Joshua came on-board (following the advice of CJ and John Loftness), he (Joshua) rearranged the church to ensure every corner of it was tightly secured under pastoral authority.

    Pastoral control was attractively presented in guise of friendly household titles such as, “Foyer”, “Living Room” and “Kitchen”. But, in the process, the pastors forbid anyone from inviting non-believers or non-members, to their care group meetings or events. They were not to be invited to any event that was not specifically designated for outreach. That effectively ended a LOT of friendship evangelism.

    And so, CLC substituted member-led evangelism outreach for pastor-led and controlled ‘ALPHA” style programs.

    An example of the effect on one person we invited to ALPHA: they got offended when they figured out the majority of people in their circle were church members. There were only 2 other non-believers in their group of 10! And, two out of three of them dropped-out of the meetings before they ended.

    The foundation of this decision to restructure the church, was a fear that CLC members were not being influenced enough by the ‘pastor’s voice’. The pride underlying that belief is that a pastor’s God-given role is to control everyone and everything in their church, including evangelism. These lies have unfortunately greatly hindered the Holy Spirit at CLC.

    The pastoral patterns of control stopped me from serving or inviting guests to church since Joshua was installed. It also led us to leave the church after a membership that spanned half our lives.

  • Izze said:

    Didn’t realize SGM had decided to pull all previous comments off their blog. Do they see how cowardice that makes them look? What are they so afraid of? I feel like so many decisions they make are based out of fear. How will that make them “look” or how so and so will perceive it?

    I am sure they are afraid of a number of things. It wouldn’t surprise me if (especially in the past) there were a number of people with questions that thought they were the only ones with those questions. When they find out that others have the same questions or when those who aren’t questioning hear these questions it might make some ask the same questions.

    The way SGM has defined “gossip” and “slander” has kept a number of people from being vocal about their questions. I am sure SGM would like to keep it that way.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Re: Kris #45,

    I think that SGM (formerly PDI) started out with a true zeal to be serious about the Christian faith. Think about it… both CJ and Larry came out of a dry legalistic Catholic experience where many were just going through the motions and perhaps Christian in name only. I know that’s what my religious experience was growing up. So then they get radically saved, love Jesus and want to please and honor Him. Great motivations, right? They are young but zealous. Their zeal is very contagious and the church begins to grow. So they teach that being a true Christian is serious buisness! We wanted to be a pure and holy people. I think the problem came when we started to believe that what God was doing with PDI was different and new. He had called us to a higher standard. In comes the reformed doctrine and we then become very serious and concerned about our sin. It becomes very imbalanced. Legalistic even. When newcomers from other churches visit, they see a people who really take their Christianity seriously. They hear doctrine that perhaps was never really addressed in their church. It is intelligent and attractive. They see people relating closely to each other and they want that for their families. The thing they don’t realize, which I am just learning, is that we have lost our first love. Maybe not everybody, but we are very church and doctrine focused and not as Jesus focused. We are very well organized and do church well, but we have lost that initial zeal for Jesus— Him alone. We are missing the simlpicity of just loving and knowing Jesus. I know I have. I want it back! And a lot of these churches that we thought were not as doctrinely sound as SGM actually have that right. They may not know the Westminster Cathecism(sp?), but they know and love Jesus.

  • 2+2=4 again

    I should have also added, that even though Reformed doctrine and related books, never the Bible, were always pushed, that also ironically, the priesthood of all believers, truly a concept the Reformers expounded on, was never mentioned. This group of churches is very close to the Catholic mindset and way of doing things, imo, very much into law, although they could NEVER see it that way.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Kris-45, thanks! Yes, for 2 years, a small group we were in was very much about getting everyone in line with hyper-Calvinism, and peripheral doctrines of Reformed Theology, and most definitely, that air of superiority has come across.

  • I’m thinking this might make for an entire post of its own, but while I was responding to a reader’s email just now, in connection with my #37, something occurred to me.

    In #37, I’d said,

    SGM churches typically don’t draw unbelievers to Christ so much as they draw Christians to SGM.

    This is why SGM has alienated non-SGM family members. Being an SGMer is just different than being an “ordinary” Christian.

    Here’s a question I have: is it necessarily wrong that the membership of SGM churches is usually comprised of people who used to be members of other Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches?

    The short answer is, of course, no. It’s not necessarily wrong. But as “Lost in (cyber) Space” pointed out, it’s significant…especially because the planting of SGM churches is the very way that SGM has historically defined its “missions” work.

    If SGM’s “missions” were really JUST about spreading the good news of Jesus, then it would follow that a significant percentage (rather than a tiny minority) of new SGM members would also be new believers rather than longtime Christians from other churches.

    Unless, of course, the SGM way of doing church does indeed represent the way that true Christianity should be…and (conversely), what’s going on in all the other Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming churches in the neighborhoods near the typical SGM church does NOT quite represent the way that true Christianity should be worked out.

    So the question becomes, is SGM a superior way of doing church? Does SGM “get it righter” – or is SGM “more biblical” – than other churches?

    If the SGMers out there reading this would be honest, they’d have to admit that they do believe their church is better and more right than other churches.

    Now, they could say, in their own defense, that that is a very normal human thing, to believe in the inherent superiority of one’s own particular choice…and that we all, to some degree, believe thus about our own church selections.

    And that would be true, to some degree.


    Where that defense falls apart is in the SGMer’s honest gut reaction when she, say, meets another Christian (true Christian, someone who has come to understand his sinfulness and helplessness to save himself and make himself right in the eyes of a holy God, someone who has heard and understood the good news of Jesus and what He did through His death and resurrection to take his punishment upon Himself, to satisfy a righteous God’s demands, and to present him holy and blameless before the Father) who happens not to be an SGMer. Let’s say our hypothetical SGMer finds herself attracted to this person and decides that she wants to date (er…be in a courtship with) him. He shares her feelings and initiates this relationship.

    What happens next?

    Would she feel like she needed to “reach out” to this person and hope that he leaves his present (Bible-believing, gospel-proclaiming) church to join her SGM church? Or would she be able to entertain the possibility that his church would be perfectly adequate for the two of them, should they become a couple, get married, and need to find a church home together?

    What would her SGM parents think of this situation? Would they even let the courtship proceed?

    (What’s interesting is that some years back, Brent Detwiler even put together a document about courtship that made the rounds throughout the SGM organization, and one of the sections was about this very thing, the couple’s joint commitment to an SGM church. So this stuff has actually been acknowledged and taught outright.)

    I think that if SGMers were to be brutally honest with themselves, they’d simply have to acknowledge that the gospel SGM shares with people is not just about the good news of Jesus…and not even about participating in Jesus’ visible organized church in some general way. Rather, the SGM gospel is “Jesus Plus.” It’s “Jesus Plus How We Do Church.” Or, “Jesus Plus All Our Formulas And Strategies For Holy Living.” Or, “Jesus Plus Our Own ‘Sound Doctrine.'”

    Now, getting back to the original thought that sparked this comment, is it true that SGM churches represent a better way to do church?

    I think we can acknowledge that SGM churches do get some things “righter” than your typical church. For instance, the SGM approach to small groups and fellowship does make it a lot easier to bond with and feel connected to other church members. Also, SGM churches have done a good job about urging members to pursue righteous living.

    But if we were doing a balance sheet, I’d have to say that the problems (particularly as they’ve been revealed in undeniable ways over the past 8 or 10 months) more than outweigh what SGM gets right. For everything that SGM does “righter” than other churches, there’s an awful lot of baggage that can end up becoming harmful legalism. The push for instant intimacy in care groups, for instance, can involve an unhealthy emphasis on getting people to open up too much about their sins. The push for avoiding situations that can lead us more easily to sin has given us homeschooling-as-the-11th-commandment…and courtship-as-the-12th-commandment.

    As I said, for everything SGM churches seem on the surface to do better than other churches, there is (or can be) a seriously dark side…which indicates that SGM churches don’t actually have a corner on what’s right.

    So if it’s true that SGM churches do NOT represent a superior (“more biblical”) way, and if SGM considers its church-planting efforts as THE WAY they spread the gospel, and if the gospel they spread is something that tends to appeal most to those who are already Christians and already have the “old” gospel…then what SGM is actually spreading just might be a different gospel.

    I know that’s harsh…a bitter pill for people to swallow…

    But again, if the majority of new members are simply longtime Christians from other churches, than the gospel the SGM church is preaching cannot be simply about Jesus and His generic Church. It’s about something else.

    And I think SGM needs to address this mindset and figure out what’s behind it. Perhaps then, SGMers will cease alienating themselves from non-SGM Christians, including their non-SGM Christian family members.

  • CLCya

    I wanted to let everyone know that Mole will be coming to Gaithersburg, Richmond, and Fairfax, “in the near future…to engage in individual counseling sessions, particularly where issues of spiritual abuse may be relevant…”.

    Please visit his web site: for more information and be sure to complete the online form if you are interested in pursuing counseling.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Izze-41, yep, “Perfect love casts out fear”. For all the “correct doctrine”, you’d think love would be the hallmark, not fear of man, which ironically, they are always warning against. Every child over a few years old there feels such pressure to be accepted, to stay in leadership’s good graces.

  • Izze

    This is off topic (sorry Kris) but needs to be said. I’m not defending anyone here and I am not devaluing many concerns about where in the world all the $$$$ comes from that CJ has…but I just wanted to correct some house upgrade speculation (and then the convo can be done, because there really are bigger fish to fry). Basically the 125k upgrades had been put into the house before the Mahaney’s bought it. Kitchen was already done up, and yes the previous owner put a lot of $$ into it. The things they changed were structural because they needed to fit two families into one house.

  • Izze

    Jason #38- Didn’t realize SGM had decided to pull all previous comments off their blog. Do they see how cowardice that makes them look? What are they so afraid of? I feel like so many decisions they make are based out of fear. How will that make them “look” or how so and so will perceive it? They must have no idea what the heck they are doing. Where is the transparency they so desperately demanded from laity for years and years? Why do they feel the need to control the information? I do speculate that running with the RBDogs is quite a feat for them. Like keeping up with the Jones. One tiny slip up and negative press from one of the RBDogs and they lose so much buy in from so many well.. “book buyers”. Although CJ was genius to get in on the T4G wagon. It’s basically a safe haven for him to be a part of it because well…if he does something dumb, it makes them all look dumb. No wonder they ran to his defense as soon as Brent’s “fit hit the shan”. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. God have Mercy!

  • Jason,

    Good point, about the removal of all the old comments from the SGM blog. I can’t imagine how leaving them up would have created “staffing issues.” :roll:

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    You said “that SGM churches typically don’t draw unbelievers to Christ so much as draw Christians to SGM.)”

    When I first read your thoughts on this in previous posts I was alarmed. “Really????”, I thought. But then I started thinking about the different people I know who have come to my church in the past 6 years. Yes, the majority by far are from other churches. I do know of a couple new believers and those that were coming back to Jesus after walking away, but our church has more than doubled with mostly people from neighboring churches. That is really scary to me. We have taken so many members from one church that relations with that church are strained. Are we merely preaching our church to other Christians and not reaching out to the lost? I have been in SGM since the mid-80’s and it wasn’t always that way. We used to go out regularly and share the gospel with people on Friday nights. We saw many saved and miraculously healed. I miss those days! What happened?????

  • Jason


    Thanks for your answer in #12. SGM’s explanation still doesn’t explain why they chose to remove all previously published comments from older posts. It’s strange too, because SGM usually provides detailed explanations with solid reasoning before they make a change (where’s the sarcasm font?).

  • Stunned said,

    I know sometimes there are people who come here who are not currently or were not members, but who have close family members who are in SGM. These mothers or children come here to try to understand the change that has taken place in their family members. To understand why they have been cut out of their relatives lives.

    Stunned, thanks for bringing up another segment of our reading population.

    One of the sad truths about SGM – one of the characteristics that SGM has shared with cultic groups – is that historically, membership in an SGM church has tended to alienate the member from non-SGMers, including close non-SGM (but still Christian) family.

    I hear from a lot of these poor people who find themselves cut off from kids and grandkids, mystified at what has happened.

    And just in case anyone is wondering, it’s not that these people would represent “bad influences” or anything else negative. As I said, many of them are Christians, just not SGM-style Christians.

    I know that since it has been discussed publicly, SGM pastors are now trying to change this – but historically, SGM has viewed itself as the best game in town, the “most biblical” kind of church, the place with “correct doctrine” and all the right ways to live life. No, it wasn’t necessarily stated outright from the pulpit in so many words…but SGM churches have created people who see themselves and their denomination as spiritually superior to other groups.

    (If this weren’t true, then why has planting more SGM churches in already-church-saturated suburbs been regarded as “spreading the gospel,” to the point where for a long, long time, its church-planting efforts were SGM’s only “missions” work?

    A couple of years back, there was even an established SGM church that was going to do a church plant in Colorado Springs, CO. A reader sent me the link to the area on that church’s website where the church plant was discussed. It was incredible to me to read people’s comments about how excited they were to sell their homes, change jobs, uproot their families, and basically go to a ton of trouble to move to a town that is known as something of the Mecca of the Evangelical world, with so many decent gospel-proclaiming, Bible-believing churches already available that to visit them all would take way more than a year of Sundays. The people who were planning to be part of this SGM church plant were actually discussing their joy in “sacrificing for the gospel”! Think about that. Think about the spiritual superiority that has to be present in order to believe that it is “sacrificing for the gospel” to plant an SGM church in a place where there’s already a ton of good churches.)

    The non-SGM family members who have written to me have shared stories of finding themselves quickly sidelined and cut off from their relatives’ lives after the relatives joined SGM churches. Sometimes it was because the SGM relatives were just sooooo busy with SGM-related activities…but often, it was actually discussed outright, as though the Christian non-SGM family members weren’t quite Christian enough to qualify for close fellowship with the SGMers.

    This reality is, as I said, one of the qualities about SGM that would be characterized as cultic. But it’s been true, in so many ways, that SGMers have historically viewed their way of “doing church” as so significantly different than other churches that joining SGM practically represented a whole new level of conversion. That was one of the disturbing things that Guy and I noticed when we were part of our own SGM church for awhile – people’s testimonies, which usually (in the non-SGM world) are about how they came to know Jesus, were instead about how they came to be part of SGM. The testimonies were all along the lines of, “I was a Christian for X number of years, and then I found this church…”

    (Another thing the statistic-lovin’ soul might want to look at is this: any time new members are welcomed into your SGM church, what percentage of them would be new believers with no prior church membership?

    If our statistic-lovin’ soul is honest, he will discover the truth, that SGM churches typically don’t draw unbelievers to Christ so much as draw Christians to SGM.)

    This is why SGM has alienated non-SGM family members. Being an SGMer is just different than being an “ordinary” Christian.

  • DK

    I have only posted on the blog a few times, but I check in and read the blog at least twice per day. It has helped me process my 28 years at CLC and is having a profound effect on my view of my SGM experience and my own Christianity. Like the iceberg where 10% is above water and 90% is below, many followers are not seen.

    I also think the exodus of people from CLC is not over. Not a week or an errand goes by during which I don’t learn of a new family that is planning to leave. They may not have left yet, but they are looking, planning, or waiting for the right timing (e.g., end of school). Often they appreciate what Josh is trying to do, but some of the basic theological, polity, or social issues have not changed enough for them. And some just want to change geographical location for family or financial reasons, and finally feel free to do so.

  • Stunned

    Kris said, “generate a lot of responses is because they’re so profound that they stand alone.”

    SO TRUE! To me, often times, the BEST comments I feel NO need to respond to. I just sit back and enjoy re reading them. I feel like anything I add is merely trite and unnecessary.

    But to Kris’ post, I DO feel the need to add this: Kris, I am not trying to be nice here, but I can’t imagine you being a better moderator. I can’t imagine being able to read everything here, let alone comment, along with creating new posts AND reading all the private emails people write to you, then on top of all that, responding to those private emails, as well. Seriously, I appreciate your diligence and care. Please don’t be hard on yourself. Grace, grace, grace.

  • One other thought –

    As the de facto moderator here, I have to say that I feel bad sometimes for the way I’ve fallen down on the job. There are some days when I have barely had time to read through all the comments, let alone respond as I ought to. I know that people have contributed some amazingly insightful posts that have unfortunately slipped by, unremarked.

    If you’re reading this and that’s happened to you, by the way, I’m sorry!

    I think one reason certain comments don’t generate a lot of responses is because they’re so profound that they stand alone. Yeah, that might sound kind of grandiose, but it’s true. A lot of times I will read something and go, “Yes!!!” and then feel like there’s nothing else I could possibly add to what was said. The sad thing is that when that happens, the contributor can take the lack of further dialog as an indication that he or she is not welcomed into the conversation…when the reality is just the opposite, in that what they wrote was so good that there’s nothing left to say.

  • Stunned

    Hi Ref Guy,

    thanks for responding! I hadn’t seen your response when I said I was curious as to why you were curious. Like I said above, I’d imagine there are as many reasons why people post here as there are posters.

    But since you like stats (like I do- math nerds unite!), I thought you might find this interesting. I believe that pre-Brent’s-documents, there were 20,000 UNIQUE visitors to this site on a monthly basis. (Kris, please correct me if I am wrong.)

    And I think (again, Kris, please correct me if this is wrong) this fall, one of the months this site had something like 80,000 UNIQUE visitors. Unique means that it is not the same person coming back over and over again, but that 80,000 unique visitors means that there were 80,000 DIFFERENT computers visiting here.

    Now, since I don’t own tens of thousands of computers, I can only assume it’s not one person visiting 79,999 other computers for the sole purpose of logging in here to read. Which means there are probably 80,000 people coming here to read, at least for one month this fall.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think there are currently that many people still in SGM. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if PDI/SGM has cranked through that many people since the 1970’s. I don’t know if you know that stats on people coming to stay or people coming for a decade, two decades, even three, then leaving after experiencing abuse at the hands of their leaders in SGM, but it’s amazingly high.

    And just ’cause you love stats as much as I do, (yes, I am a complete dork and proud of it), I know sometimes there are people who come here who are not currently or were not members, but who have close family members who are in SGM. These mothers or children come here to try to understand the change that has taken place in their family members. To understand why they have been cut out of their relatives lives. They are some really lovely people. I have met some of them. Sadly, this is a much more common occurence in SGM than you might know. I have literally met mothers from Washington state to Florida, who mourn for their children and long to be let back into their lives and into their grandchildren’s lives. The numbers on this situation, are tragically high, as well. Siblings who are both believers, who love God, who walk with God, being cut off, merely because they have chosen to worship elsewhere.

    I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. If you could, please, help to dig up stats about that, that would be helpful to all those who are in that situation and who would be comforted to find out, they are not alone.

  • Thanks to everyone who posted re my questions about the lampstand and almond trees. I know it’s off-topic, but wow – fascinating stuff!

  • Apologies to “ReformedGuy,” who had a response stuck in moderation all night. It now appears as comment #18, for those who are interested.

    “exCLCer’sMom” is correct, in that the assortment of people who might comment here shifts and changes over time. Last year when Brent’s documents hit and we were fielding traffic that was as high as 60,000 page views per day, the site’s database became overwhelmed and Guy had to remove the comments from older posts. But if we were to go back through those comments, we’d see that hundreds of people have been part of the commenting group here over the past 4 1/2 years. Some old-timers still contribute, some pop by once in awhile, some read and process their SGM experiences and then move on. It’s the nature of the subject matter.

    What’s interesting is that the comments represent just a fraction of the site’s audience, based upon stats. I get a LOT of email from people who don’t choose to comment for one reason or another, but who still have had difficulties at their SGM churches. Many who write to me don’t comment because they are still in SGM churches and feel a level of fear over what might happen if their participation here were to be discovered. Some don’t have a lot of experience with the online world and haven’t take the time to figure out how to comment. It just depends.

    If “ReformedGuy” did his math project to show that the segment of SGMers who have had bad experiences or even just concerns about their local churches is statistically insignificant, I’m afraid he’s out of luck.

    It might be interesting for “ReformedGuy” to do a deeper, more extensive kind of research and poll Christian counselors in his area, particularly if his SGM church has been around for a decade or longer. Ask these counselors if they have dealt with a disproportionately high number of people who have suffered enough to seek professional help after having a bad SGM experience.

    Or, seek out an interview with an Ambassadors of Reconciliation staffer and ask how their recent SGM project compares to anything else they’ve ever done.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Ref. Guy:
    Why do you ask?

  • B.R. Clifton

    2+2: Thanks.

  • 2+2=4 again

    B.R. Clifton-10. In Him, thank you!!!

  • Oswald

    Glad #22 — :goodpost

  • Oswald

    Ozy #23 — Concerning the link you posted, ’nuff said.


  • Ozymandias

    Reformed Guy #16:

    First, I’d take a look at this:

    Second, I’d be interested to take a look at any major Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) blogger and run the same exercise. I would imagine that you’d get a similar ratio between number of posts and number of discrete contributors.

    Third, I’d be interested to take a look at any major YRR blogger and map the number of posts regarding SGM and the number of discrete contributors…but that could prove difficult to do because, for the SGM-related posts, those blogs tend to turn off comments altogether.

  • glad i am out

    Reformed Guy…

    I may be wrong, but i think i see where you are going… You love your local church, and want to badly believe that people who speak out about it are a minority…

    !st, since you are counting, why don’t you go back 4 years, instead of a few weeks, i think you will find several hundreds, if not thousands (Kris?) of voices represented here…

    I know how you love your church,, most of us here did too… we can relate…

    We learned the hard way, the truth…

    Here is an important difference between most of “us” and you…

    We did not read the blogs… they did not exist….

    We learned from our leaders that they were not accountable, not properly trained, not reading, if i may say so, their own bibles… we learned from our care group leaders the same… We experienced the unGodly legalism.. the rules… the LAW!! read galatians and see what Paul has to say about the law…

    You do not need the blogs either to discern the truth… Honestly, if you do not know by now, that your church has SERIOUS issues, then you are a fool.. If you want to stay a fool, and attack the bloggers, well… we can not help you…

    But if you want to see the truth, and work for reform, then stick around…

  • Oswald

    Diane #15 — Thanks so much for the links to info about the lampstands. Plenty of verses to remind us that Jesus is truly the Light of the world. There is no other.

    To Ref Guy #16 — Who cares?

  • Stunned

    I’d imagine for each person, we have our own reasons.

    So curious now. Why do you ask?

  • Diego

    Hey Reformed guy – I ran into some friends this weekend that I thought were still going to a SG church… they left… Can you tell me how many people have left SG churches over the 9 months? How many people have been withholding their tithe? How much money are church (like Kingsway) loosing each month? I NEED STATS :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin :spin !!!

  • Persona

    Ref-Guy 16

    I too think it strange that you drop-in with such a leading question, and a negative one at that. You give us no intro and no clue as to your curiosity about SGM. Are you a statistician by trade?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Good answer, Kris! I would like to add, however, reformed Guy, you would need to go back way longer, and yet also read all the posts. Many people go through ‘seasons’ reading and praying before they even comment the first time! I am sure that just like most things in life, everyone who reads or comments on this blog has different reasons for doing either one. Sometimes, I go through a more reflective time, where I just read, prayer, consider..other times, the particular topics are something that just are not as meaningful or relevant to me as others (I tend to fade out when people begin to argue doctrine..that is just me), and yet there are also times when my life is so busy, I dont even have time to get to the computer! What I have found during the last year of reading these blogs is that just because people are not commenting, does not mean they are not reading. I think people feel like , “If you dont have anything relevant to say, then read and learn and pray”, perhaps? That is pretty much how I feel at least.
    But, I was wondering, did your question have a point, or were you just curious? I hope I may have broadened your perspective a little.

  • ReformedGuy

    It only took about 10 minutes. I was interested in how many people seemed to be concerned about SGM and entering the conversation. There seems to be a lot of SGM church members who are happy with their local church. They just don’t have a blog. Seems to be a minority that are contributing to this blog and others. Thought I would would do some unofficial stats on the last few posts. Just watching with curiosity.

  • ReformedGuy –

    I am interested in why you took the time to do all that counting and write that question?


  • ReformedGuy

    I am interested why so few people seem to be spending so much time with SGM? I looked over the past 4 posts and there were 699 comments by 121 people. The vast majority of the comments where by less than 50 people. Why is that?

  • Defended

    Kris, Praise Warrior .. all I can say is THANK YOU.
    Praise Warrior – I love your name!
    Regarding this:
    Confession. Repentance. Restitution. Those seem to be the forgotten life-blood. It is not okay for a perfunctory report to come out and say “Oops – sorry – we really missed it there.” Peoples lives have been affected. Eldership that goes un-checked and unbalanced is unwise and can violate people.

    funny, I don’t see a mention here or in the Word, among the Disciples you named, of discussing anyone’s sin as “normal” or “ordinary”, do you? Or a leader getting a pass because that’s how their sin can be described?

    PW, I also liked the part that His Name is Jesus pointed out:
    “Some have suggested that we are just a bunch of bitter and resentful people. Maybe some of us are. Perhaps we aren’t. Maybe we have been exasperated. We might just be sad and if you will permit a category of hurting. People who are sad and hurting yet full of love for you.” :word

    The irony for me is that when Defender and I took a stand on the truth that the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts us of sin, not men declaring they saw sin we needed to confess, we were in heap-big trouble in the very same ex-congregation as His Name is Jesus belonged to. :bang

  • newbie,

    Thanks for not letting Jason’s question get lost in the shuffle.

    I have to say, it’s interesting to me that SGM’s comment moderation practices are such that they require “staffing.” Seriously.

    I can’t imagine that the SGM site’s moderator’s job would be that big of a deal…unless, of course, he or she feels compelled to exert a great deal of control over the conversation.

  • newbie

    re: jason #172. i saw this at the bottom of the website:

    About Blog Comments

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  • Remnant

    Quite a word, Praise Warrior. :word
    Your heart is precious and I pray your sentiments, your questions, your probing ideas bring many to pause and reflect.

    Kris, regarding the Lampstand (singular stand with 7 branches)it can be said that this is a perfect symbol of the Messiah Jesus, who is the Light of the World.

    The Lampstand had a center base, topped with a cup for oil. Attached to that base, are 3 curved branches with the top of each curve having a cup for oil. The total of cups is 7, the number of perfection.

    The Lampstand stood in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple.

    Isaiah 11:2 has this to say of the Messiah:
    2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
    3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

    If you picture the Lampstand, the center which forms the base and the middle pot of oil: this represents the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit and the words from above: “The Spirit of the Lord.”

    The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him. He does what the Spirit instructs. Jesus is full of the Spirit and One with the Spirit.

    Then the verse describes the “Him” whom we know as Messiah Jesus. The description has 3 sets of 2, and each set represents one of the curved branches.

    One branch: the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    Second branch: the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    Third branch: the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.

    If I can find a file, I’ll email you a drawing I have of the above representation.

  • B.R. Clifton

    There are a few good books on the Tabernacle of Moses out there that are well worth purchasing for study. The lampstand is symbolic of the illumination we as disciples of Christ need. The accompanying olive oil provided the fuel for the seven lights and is symbolic of the annointing in our lives (the Holy Spirit). You’ve probably already read the part where the lamps are to be kept burning 24 hours a day. That’s also reflective of how we are to keep the Holy Spirit active in our own lives in order to maintain the annointing and illumination to know the path we are to walk. That’s being led by the Holy Spirit.

    I just finished teaching a series on the Tabernacle/temple and the seven God ordained feasts that Israel was to keep during the year. The whole point of the study was/is to show that God was giving Israel a preview of what Jesus was to perform here on earth on our behalf. When studied closely Jesus is the very focal point of the feasts and even the detailed structure of the Tabernacle itself points to our saviour.

    It’s a crying shame that so many churches and denominations now ignore the Old Testament. It is the very basis for everything that is written in the New testament. In fact, without the Old Testament there is no basis for the New. Think asbout it. What bible did Jesus and John the Baptist preach from? What bible did Peter, John, Paul, and all the others preach from? The very Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the Old Testament. The New Testament can be looked upon as a sort of commentary on the Old. You still have to have the old, however, for the New to make sense. The N.T. was written to jews who knew their background and to Gentile converts who had an understanding of jewish religion, so the N.T. writings made perfect sense to them. Not so the 20th century Christian who generally knows Zip about Judaism and Jewish culture. More mistakes are made in teaching and doctrine by disregarding this subject than just about anything else.

    I’m glad you wrote your post about this. Perhaps others too will get curious and begin studying the Bible from “A” to “Z”.

  • His Name is Jesus

    This is a very well thought out written appeal/exhortation. I might add, that it is very gracious in tone as well.

    “Some have suggested that we are just a bunch of bitter and resentful people. Maybe some of us are. Perhaps we aren’t. Maybe we have been exasperated. We might just be sad and if you will permit a category of hurting. People who are sad and hurting yet full of love for you.”

    This was brilliant!

  • Oswald

    Kris #3 — Whenever I come across something 2 or 3 times in a short period of time, I assume the Holy Spirit is wanting me to see something there; maybe so with you.

    Several years ago,(maybe 40 years ago) I attended a Bible study where the tabernacle was studied over several weeks. I was very interesting to see all the symbolism in the metals, materials, colors, measurements, etc that were used. What was taught concerning the lampstand is as follows. “The golden lampstand was beaten with a hammer into the shape of an almond bush, stands for Christ’s resurrection. Center shaft with 6 branches was one solid piece. Christ is the stalk, believers are the branches. Lamp in each branch burned with olive oil [oil often symbolizes the Holy Spirit]. No measurements given as we can’t measure the Lord’s work. Christ was beaten before Calvary. Aaron took care to burn the lamp and the incense. Lamp light was never to go out. It was the only light, just as Christ is to be our only light and must never go out, no light came in from outside.”

    In the letters to the churches in Revelations, it says this about the lampstands.
    Rev 1:20 — As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

  • Persona

    Kris 4

    Excellent thought:

    “I wish they’d just address the obvious problems caused by their lack of formal accountability to their congregations… rethink their beliefs about their own “God-ordained” authority… deal with the fallout from their apparent assumption that they cannot actually make mistakes when functioning in their pastoral role… and quit thinking that they’re ever going to figure out the “most biblical” way of setting up their church structure.”

    Neither SGM nor CLC has changed on the deepest level. They still think they are called to tell everyone what to think and how to live. And, they have yet to confess or repent for past abuses of authority to members.

    I believe it is folly to hope that they can rebuild on the same foundations. Because of this, I believe it is appropriate to call for certain SGM leaders to resign or retire from ministry. The list would probably be long but, that would be the simplest solution.

  • Bridget

    Kris –

    But what you ask in your post @4 flies in the face of what the whole Neo/New Calvinist movement is about. They want to get it all “Biblically” and “Gospel Centered” right. They want to know it all and teach it all to everyone else. They rarely, if ever, teach about being a new creation in Christ Jesus who is called to be a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer.

    We have seen this again and again with many of the leaders in SGM. They do everything they can to prop up their authority and eliteness, but they don’t DO the things that truely humble, spirit-led servant/leaders would do.

    SGM hires AoR to tell them what people HAVE been telling them already and bringing to them for years. They go have a retreat to read the AoR report and develop a response?? They have lost touch with the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. They have lost touch with being disciples and making disciples. It’s not complicated. Jesus didn’t make it complicated, hard to enter-yes, but not complicated. All SGM wants people to do is contemplate the cross. That’s what they teach over and over. Where does the Bible tell them to do just that one thing?

    Yes, dealing with the real issues . . . that would entail some actual Biblical actions toward the people they have wronged. They can’t fathom that, though, since it doesn’t line up with their precious doctrines which include contemplating the cross/gospel. Is contemplating the cross/gospel what we are told to do when we have offended someone? It seems to me that they have stunted their spiritual growth and only have a form of godliness. They simply don’t believe the whole counsel of God.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    That was beautiful. Thank you PW.

    I find these SGM blogs to be challenging to me as a wife, mother, friend, and sister at church. The sins of SGM are temptations to us all. There is a human tendency to be selfish, self sufficient, not quick to apologize, to hide our shame and pretend, and to lose our first love. SGM has become for me a model/mirror of where sin leads, so I will be careful.

    I think God put histories in the bible like David and Bathsheba, wise Solomon turning to idols, and Peter sliding into legalism and having to be rebuked by Paul, to warn us. Corinthians says that the OT stories are warnings to us not to behave like they did with their idols and murmuring and unbelief. For me as a Calvinist, Charismatic, Baptist, and Complementarian Christian in doctrine, like what SGM claims to be, SGM has become the all time negative role model for just how BAD church can become and how sinful Christians in the “cheap seats” can be. The shunning, the overlooking of little girls who were sexually abused, the blind trust in leaders, the denial, worship of man….so so much. May I be delivered of it all.

    I think God is trying to warn the entire neo-Calvinist movement, ie the Gospel Coalition crowd and all of their tens of thousands of followers (I’d say I am in that camp). I wonder if many of them are really hearing anything at all.

    God will shake. I hope I am listening myself. May we all get over any stupidity in thinking that we in our flesh can do it right and make things happen. May we all turn to God in dependent prayer knowing that He MUST move by the power of His Holy Spirit.

    Kris #4…Grudem agrees with you, ironically enough, given the way they spout Grudem.

  • Random thought re what I mentioned in my #3 –

    Isn’t it interesting that God was so totally specific about things like the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament…but did not spell much of anything out very clearly for the New Testament Christians when it came to how they were supposed to “do church”?

    It makes me think that SGM’s current seeming fixation on figuring out the precisely “biblical” way to do (or redo) their polity is not exactly that biblical.

    I wish they’d just address the obvious problems caused by their lack of formal accountability to their congregations…rethink their beliefs about their own “God-ordained” authority…deal with the fallout from their apparent assumption that they cannot actually make mistakes when functioning in their pastoral role…and quit thinking that they’re ever going to figure out the “most biblical” way of setting up their church structure.

    The New Testament would seem to show us that God didn’t care about too many governmental specifics. After all, we know that when God wanted to get detailed in His instructions, He certainly had no problem doing so. Trying so hard to extrapolate the “best, most biblical” approach to something like church governance strikes me as pretty futile…and possibly little more than a distraction from actually dealing with the real issues.

  • This line really hit a nerve for me:

    Perhaps he would warn you that unless you repent, Jesus will come to you and remove the lampstand from its place.

    It hit a nerve not because of anything SGM-related, but because over the past several days, I have been reading in Exodus for my Bible-reading time. Because I’m a big believer in the idea that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for correction and instruction in righteousness, I’ve been slogging through everything, including all the intricate instructions that God gave Moses for the construction of the tabernacle.

    Something that I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit bringing to my attention has been the description of the lampstands, first as they are portrayed in Exodus and then as they were mentioned by Jesus in His parable about the foolish versus wise virgins (I just “happened” to stumble across a discussion of that parable a couple of days ago).

    So it was downright WEIRD to see “Praise Warrior’s” allusion to lampstands in this post.

    Anyone out there who has made a study of the significance of lampstands in the Bible – I’d love it if you’d share what you’ve learned. I feel like there is something here that I’m supposed to understand in a new way, but I’m not sure what it is.

    (In particular, I’d LOVE to know what an Old Testament scholar has to say about the symbolism of the almond blossoms that are part of the lampstands in Exodus.)

    To anyone out there looking for an offbeat place to do your personal devotions, join me in reading the chunk of Exodus where God tells Moses exactly – PRECISELY, down to the fabric and color and stitching selections – how He wants the tabernacle constructed. The mind of God is just…amazing to me…it’s amazing to think how detail-oriented God is.

  • Izze

    :goodpost :clap My favorite parts below:

    “There are many things you stand for that you hate, but what do you love?”

    “When God comes to church, there is no mistake He is there.”

    “where is the AOR report and why does it need to be discussed in Louisville before we ever see it? What is there to hide?”

    “We are listening but words without accompanying change will be meaningless.”

    “We might just be sad and if you will permit a category of hurting.”

  • This post asks a lot of powerful questions. One that’s been rumbling around in my mind, unarticulated, is this:

    Where is the AOR report and why does it need to be discussed in Louisville before we ever see it? What is there to hide?

    Yes, indeed – why DOES the AoR report need to be discussed in Louisville before it is released to the members of SGM churches, who, after all, provided the tithes and offerings that paid AoR’s fees?