Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Treasures of the Newfrontiers Magazine

Another "change" coming to Newfrontiers is the finishing of the wonderful magazine edited by Terry Virgo. Terry gave us this rather shock announcement in his final session at "Together on a Mission" and said this would be the penultimate edition which we were given at the conference. I was saddened to hear this - I've had a deep love for the magazine which I have been carefully collecting since back in my university days.

One of the major riches of the magazine is the "Firstline" introduction as editor that Terry would write. I've read through some of my magazines and have posted some of my favourite Terry quotes below;

"The challenge remains for us to be enthusiastic in our embracing of the activity of the Holy Spirit and to be through in our commitment to Biblical truth" - Firstline, Jan-March 2007

"It is very possible to deplore the closing of church buildings and be saddened by the apparant collapse of Christianity but if we simply see it in Ern Baxter's terms, we realise that Saul's kingdom is fading fast but David's kingdom is emerging. There is a new anointing" - Firstline - Sep-Nov 2004

"One of the most important apostolic responsibilities therefore is to define who are the people of God" - Sept-Nov 2003.

"As we go on world mission, we believe we are the fulfillment of promises made to Abraham that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:3) and that he was the heir of the world (Rom 4:13)" - Firstline - Sept - Dec 2005.

"The new wine demanded a new wineskin. When we came together, we had to make room for God's Presence in this exciting new way" - Firstline - April-June 2006

"Once the local church rediscovers her glorious calling, she rises to true significance. She is a dwelling place for God's Spirit. She is corporately the light of the world, a city set on a hill which cannot be hid" - Firstline - April - June 2006.

"Be sure to run (your race) with zeal and committment fixing your eyes on Jesus 'the author and perfector of faith whofor the joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" - Firstline - March-May 2005.

"Jesus was weary of His unbelieving followers. He could not be indifferent or complacent. He could not passively accomodate their failure" - Firstline - April-June 2007.

"The Cross was a form of public execution of unparalelled degradation and repulsiveness" - Firstline - Oct-Dec 2007.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Confessions at Sovereign Grace Fairfax

I have been aware of a church in the USA called Sovereign Grace Fairfax where one of C J's son-in-laws is on staff there. It is a church that has come under heavy criticism from the Survivors and Refuge blog quite fairly I think. Some extremely sad stories of sexual abuse of children have occured at the church - this is something that I react against very strongly. I've made my life's work protecting and defending children as a nurse and I HATE the thought of any child in pain or grief. So to read these stories where child abuse happened in the church and find pastors not defending the children - it's hard to read.

I was interested that the church held a "Family Meeting" this week and was considerably impressed with their transparency, honesty and openness on their flaws. Again I think it's important to give credit where credit is due. Here's some comments on what the senior pastor Mark said;

"The blog post from SGM that contained resolutions - I found that blog post to be unacceptable in tone and content. It seemed defensive, it seemed heavy-handed and for me it raised serious questions about the integrity and the legitimacy of the evaluation process that has been entered into with C J. It failed to invite dialogue and critique. The post that followed a couple of days later entitled; "Listening" was better - but overall I was disappointed and surprised by that blog post. Personal observation number 2 - there is a need for a through review of the leadership practice inside Sovereign Grace Ministries. Key questions are undefined or unclear. What does it mean to be a member church? Does SGM have any authority over it's churches or is it simply a para-church organisation? Are their deficiencies in conflict resolution that C J references in his blog post? How can communication between the SGM Board and pastors and member churches be improved?

These are not small items. A new coat of paint won't do.

Observation number 3. Let's slow down and take a deep breath. We are not talking about adultery. The matters before SGM are quite serious but on another level they are not that unusual. This is not in anyway to make light of anyone who has been sinned against. Personally I love C J - I love SGM. I hope that partnership continues for decades to come - let's be patient and let's pray.

Four personal questions. 1. What role does the SGM board have in addressing sins in C J's life? Were Dave, Jeff and Josh enabling him or questioning him? 2. How seriously does the SGM board see what we see? We need some more queues and understanding. The blog posts have not helped me see it's worse that we think. 3. What will the process of assessing look like for SGM? Will it involve ex-pastors who have been hurt or disenfranchised? What will the process look like? 4. How is SGM reaching out to ex-pastors and leaders who have been hurt and disenfranchised by the deficiencies that C J has described?

We are at a time when SGM has been critiqued for the way pastors have led. There are several blogs that have focused on these issues. Two stories in particular have appeared on those blogs that address situations in this church. What follows is a confession in response to what is called Noel's story and Wallace's story. Romans says "Weep with those who weep" - by now many of you are aware of two stories on Survivors and Refuge - both were members of this church and both have sad stories to tell. Noel (a pen name) tells of the sad sexual abuse of her young daughter in 1998. Wallace tells the same. In both cases the young men were perpetrators who were members of this church. These incidents are exceedingly painful for these families. No compassionate person can learn of these sins without grief, sorrow and heartache of the violation of these young children.

But it gets worse - when these incidents came to light these children were victims who were sinned against. Moments like this require extraordinary amounts of tender care. This is a time to bind up the broken hearted and weep with those who weep - and that's what your pastors did right? With deep regret I confess - we didn't. Noel and Wallace are justified in critiquing the pastoral care they received.

Sadly in seeking to care for them - we became part of their trial. We unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution - this resulted in the victims families being corrected when they should have been cared for. I am so sad I did that. Our aversion to therapeutic thinking kept us from people and resources that would have helped these families and helped us to help these families. We didn't give hurting people room to help these people.

We have been accused of not getting it. Guilty as charged. I am so sorry (*breaks down in tears*)".

We are all human. And I know I can testify that the one word; "Sorry" - goes a massive way to heal a multitude of sins. I know not all will be satisfied with these comments but I really am encouraged by the honesty and openness characterizing the church leaders - may God use this to keep moving SGM towards healing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dr John Stott - A Man of God

I was saddened yet glad for him to hear that Dr John Stott went into the Presence of His Lord this morning. He was one of my greatest evangelical heroes and I was fortunate enough to have met him twice at his home church of All Souls Langham Place - I also heard him preach a number of times and his succinct wonderful exposition made a tremendous impact on my learning.

His ministry was indeed international and I am sure that his funeral will be one of the best attended celebrations seen in London! For those who haven't heard him preach, here is a video of Dr Stott preaching at Keswick a few years ago;

Monday, July 25, 2011

Larry Tomczak on the Joy of Reconciliation

I was interested in this video (thanks to Steve W) for the link where Larry Tomczak preached yesterday at Charles Schmidt's church and during the sermon made comments on the joy of reconciliation with C J Mahaney - and also Mahaney's humility in responding to his overtures and admitting wrongs - it's a good encouraging reminder that God is still at work during this difficult time for SGM!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interview with Charles Simpson on Mega churches

I was really interested to find a very recent video of a short interview with Charles Simpson on the question of why mega churches don't affect communities - but disciples do. This question has come to me every now and then - because I guess I've always held a rather naive view that mega churches surely would affect the community.

We don't have very many mega churches in the United Kingdom. Probably the closest is Church of Christ the King in Brighton (tiny comparably at over a 1000 members!) but I was shocked when many of my friends in the gay community in Brighton had absolutely no idea of CCK's existence or the values it stands for (other than being fully aware that "CCK doesn't like gays"). That is another question for another day coming soon. But it's the biggest Newfrontiers church in the UK and the community of Brighton isn't really affected!

Charles Simpson and the whole Shepherding Movement came under heavy fire for the abuses and excesses that characterized some of it. For example the majority of commenters on "SGM Survivors" hate the Shepherding Movement (and this blog for promoting and honouring Ern Baxter's ministry) and blame it for C J Mahaney and their polity. While I hate the excesses of authoritarian church leadership with a passion - I still remain persuaded by the principles of discipleship under a spiritual real father/mother that Ern Baxter particularly taught so well and so gently. I know the loneliness of being in a church and knowing that you are essentially a stranger.

Here's the video:

I would hesitantly suggest (if I can disagree with Charles Simpson) that I still think there is a place for mega churches but churches that integrate the principles of loving discipleship and cell groups and so on. For example - Paul Yongi Cho and his church in South Korea seem to take this approach extremely successfully - and there is a church that affects not just the community but the country and the world!

So here's to hoping for more mega churches under loving Ephesians 4 Ministries and father/pastors who know what it is to love and care for each member as an essential part of the living Bride of Christ!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Worship Songs at Together on a Mission 2011

Update: Adrian Warnock's got a more complete list here;

One of the highlights of the now-finished TOAM conference is the powerful times of worship and encounter with God led by Simon Brading and Kate Simmonds. I am so pleased that Simon posted some of the worship songs he used, so I could see what we missed in the sessions we didn't go to!

Here they are;

"Here are the songs we used at the Newfrontiers Together On A Mission conference this year.

Tuesday PM

This is Jesus Bm (Tom Lockly)
Christus Victor A (Simon Brading)
Praise the Lord oh my soul A (Graham Ord)
Agnus Dei A (Michael W. Smith)
Wednesday AM Mobilise

Our God He reigns C#m (Simon Brading)
Christus Victor A (Simon Brading)
Holy (Jules Burt, Sam Cox)
[Tom Shaw preach]
Be lifted up (Paul Oakley)
Be still for the presence (David Evans)
Wednesday PM

Psalm 40 (Simon & Anna Brading)
Mighty to save (Reuben Morgan)
Christus Victor (Simon Brading)
You alone can rescue (Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin)
Our God (Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin, Chris Tomlin)
[PJ Smyth Preach]
Blessed be Your name (Matt & Beth Redman)
There is a day (Nathan Fellingham)
How great is our God (Chris Tomlin)
Thursday AM

Psalm 40 (Simon & Anna Brading)
Our God He reigns (Simon Brading & Matt Redman)
Have You heard (Simon Brading, Graham Kendrick, Nathan Fellingham)
Spirit of the living God
All hail the Lamb
Christ in me (Nathan & Lou Fellingham)
What can I say / I’ll stand (Joel Houston)
Friday AM Mobilise

I come to be with You (Jules Burt)
Yesterday, today and forever (Vicky Beeching)
Holy (Jules Burt, Sam Cox)
Shine (Matt Redman)
What can I say / I’ll stand (Joel Houston)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

True Apostles are True Fathers!

A current Sovereign Grace pastor asked a pertinent question on "SGM Survivors" today;

"From your vantage point what are the primary weaknesses within SGM? Do you see any strengths?".

Sadly as per the tone of the blog a lot of the focus is on the weaknesses of SGM. But a criticism has had me thinking a lot - a lot of the "SGM survivors" (ex-SGMers to you and me) are extremely critical of the polity of SGM - or in other words the way that the denomination is run. It used to be run by C J Mahaney and the "Apostolic Team". It is now run by Dave Harvey (interim President) and the "Board of Directors".

I think the reason I am slightly more cautious of dismissing SGM's polity is because it is so similar to the style of church leadership I am used to in Newfrontiers or other apostolic movements.

Does abuse command no use - or rather consideration of right and proper use?

Firstly it is important to understand that Brent Detweiler has unveiled that SGM do not believe in the apostolic ministry anymore (seemingly). From his papers, he wrote in response to an official announcement by SGM (p114 of "Concluding Remarks");

"I wrote my wife and son the following e-mail.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 12:19 PM
To: Jenny Detwiler; Jonathan Detwiler
Subject: What Happen to the A Team

Check out ―"What happened to the apostolic team?" - It is not a truthful answer. The apostolic team was comprised of men we believed were called as apostles,not just pastors, in keeping with the teaching of Eph 4:11, etc.

The Statement of Faith makes this clear. It reads, ―The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers)
for the equipping of Christ‘s body that it might mature and grow. Through the
gift ministries all members of the Church are to be nurtured and equipped forthe work
of ministry.

Sovereign Grace no longer believes in present day apostles and I presume prophets. The five fold ministry is out. The three fold ministry is in. What concerned me the most was the effect such an explanation would have upondiscerning readers who have been a part of the movement for more than five years. Itwould undermine your credibility. Except for you; Dave, Steve and I all gave up ourpastorates in order to fulfill our calling as apostles. We were not a team of pastors. We were a team of apostles. We were an apostolic team. Not a pastoral team.

Since then Sovereign Grace‘s understanding of apostles continues to fluctuate. I‘m still
not sure if you believe in apostles and prophets per Ephesians 4:11, etc. If you don‘t,
the Statement of Faith must be changed. But this much I know, when I stepped downfrom the apostolic team in November 2007, none of us thought of ourselves as apastoral team.Sovereign Grace Ministries can change its ecclesiology and polity, but it should notmisrepresent the past. Instead be honest. Just say we believed in apostles then, we
don‘t believe in them anymore
. In the past we called it a team of apostles, now we call
it a team of pastors. In Reformed and evangelical circles it is unacceptable to refer to oneself as an apostle or prophet. Those gift ministries have ended according to their theology. But let‘s not try to save face in those circles by spinning our understanding of the apostolic team in the past.Now a days, you refer to yourself as the President and to Dave, Jeff and Joshua as Directors.

In my opinion, Sovereign Grace Ministries has become a para-churchorganization because it no longer has a clear biblical justification for its existence. The five-fold ministry has folded".

Now it is largely irrelevant whether SGM have discarded their belief in the full Ephesians 4 Ministries or not - they (led by Mahaney and Harvey) have the right to change their doctrinal views on the baptism of the Holy Spirit as on Ephesians 4 Ministries. The point however is that the criticisms of SGM's polity HAVE come from their previous belief in the apostolic ministry. They believed that C J Mahaney, Dave Harvey and Brent Detweiler were apostles - hence equipped to lead and father SGM.

I actually believe that the problem is not their belief in the apostolic ministry but that C J Mahaney is NOT an apostle (what churches has he been personally responsible for fathering and planting? What signs and wonders has he been used in ministering?). I've said this before. I believe that rather he is a prophet/teacher. He is an extremely gifted and able teacher who is unilateral in what he preaches. He preaches the Cross - period. And that needs preaching! But it does not need preaching to the exclusion of other aspects of the Gospel such as the resurrection, glorification, ascension and so on. From what I hear Larry Tomczak WAS the apostolically gifted leader in what was PDI - hence the shame the two men split.

Again - rather than dismissing the validity of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers - we should assess and look at the valid and real. I am finding David Devenish's new book so helpful in this respect; "Fathering Leaders - Motivating Mission". Apostles must be fathers - otherwise they are nothing worse than autocratic leaders who care more about speaking on conference platforms than they do sitting and weeping with church pastors. Dave wrote;

"One danger ... is that apostolic ministry can become unwittingly hierarchic in terms of organisation. Apostolic ministry rightly raises sons to continue the ministry and go to places where the apostle is no longer able to go, whether through lack of time or because he has been called on to other ministry. But an apostle should never become simply 'the head of an organisation' simply supervising others with apostolic calling.

Apostolic ministry is always to a large extent, a hands-on ministry. It is not like some secular models of management, where the further we progress in the corporate hierarchy, the more distant we become from the coalface of production. Paul never worked like that.

The call to apostles is both to be engaged personally, hands on in world mission and also to "father" many others who will have the same passion for the gospel to go to the nations of the world".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Proper Foundations - Josh Harris

Josh Harris brought the correct focus of both his church - Covenant Life - and indeed the wider Christian community back to the glorious truths of doctrine in his sermon yesterday;

"I have very important news for you today church. The Son of God has paid the penalty for all of our sins, Jesus Christ who was crucified has risen from the dead and is even now ruling at the right hand of God over this entire universe! There is nothing in all creation that can separate us from His love! He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! He has promised us that His Church will prevail against the gates of hell and He has told us to take heart when we face tribulation because He has already overcome the world - and He is coming for us. Covenant Life - don't take your eyes off this truth".

Josh then went on to apply the freeing and encouraging truths of this doctrine to both CLC and SGM;

"These are troubling times for us as a church. God is taking our church through a difficult season and this past week was difficult for many of you. Your pastors have been praying for you. We understand the wide range of emotions you are experiencing - confusion, grief, disillusionment. Yet we have also experienced a rising hope that Jesus is in the midst of the storm with us. This awesome God is up to good for His people - He is shaking lives that we may cling more tightly to Him. I have friends who think I have betrayed C J by not standing by him enough. I have friends who think I have lacked integrity by standing with C J and Sovereign Grace. I have come to the conclusion I have too many friends!".

I am so glad that a key leader involved in these troubles is focusing on the truth of doctrine we celebrate rather than getting involved in "C J did this" or " C J did that". Having read the 600+ documents that Brent Detweiler carefully wrote - there are a couple of theological issues I do want to focus on and consider - because I think they are vitally important to the foundations of "Building a house".

They are Brent's considerations on;

1. The place and Person of the Holy Spirit.

2. Apostles as Ephesians 4 Ministries.

But disagreements and considerations aside - the truths Josh Harris cited are indeed the most important. That ALL our sins (past, present and future) have been dealt with at the Cross (that includes C J Mahaney's pride as well as other's gossip!) and He is now reigning on high.

Why Do We Bother? To Build A House!

I was immensely blessed to be sent a box full of old videos and audiotapes by Rob and Glenda Rufus last week - that contain some solid gold treasures! Rob had carefully collected some videos by Kathryn Kuhlman that are just amazingly provoking. But sneaked in there was an amazing tape from Brighton 1998 (the now finished "Together on a Mission" conference run by Newfrontiers). This was the same year that Simon Petit preached his movement-changing "Remember the Poor" message. But the tape Rob Rufus sent me was called;

"Revival Seasons require Oil-Filled Leaders" by Frank Damazio

I believe my dear friend Pete Day was at that conference and said it was powerfully visited by the Presence of God - maybe on the same level as when Rob himself was there in 2006 and 2007 - maybe moreso?! But I have been listening to that tape on the way to and from work and Frank Damazio made a quote that grabbed me;

"We will never reach a city - unless we build a house - and we will never build a house unless we build great people".

Newfrontiers used to talk about "restoring the house" but have been called on; "It's too small a thing". However we cannot forget that the house still needs to be built. This is one reason why Dave Devenish writes that apostles and prophets are so essential! Without Ephesians 4 Ministries, the foundations are shaky.

I was told recently that my post on Joshua Harris ("Pastor of Pastors") was linked by Christianity Today - which was a surprise! It just shows you never know who is visiting your blog and reading. But it made me re-evaluate my interest and concern in the things affecting SGM at the moment. The fact is - back in 2000 when we first heard C J Mahaney speak at Stoneleigh Bible Week as a guest speaker I sensed something special. Nothing else would have persuaded me to move to Bristol and join the church plant there - and moreso persuade my entire family to make the move too!

Yes, the concerns and problems I had eventually outweighed my love for SGM and events outpaced me so I had to move on. But I still do believe C J Mahaney is incredibly gifted in his singular prophetic ministry to remind Christians of the Cross. I firmly believe that ministry would be best tied to a true apostolic ministry like Larry Tomczak's (which is why we look forward to November with great interest!).

I was asked what would be the ideal resolution in all this? I can't really answer that - because only God knows but surely the most God-glorifying answer would be a stronger house with true Ephesians 4 Ministries (apostles and prophets - not a "Board of Directors"), true Holy-Spirit inspired ministry firing preaching of the Word of God absolutely devoted to mission through church-planting to all people groups of the world. May it be so!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honesty from Dave Harvey

For those following events in SGM, it became evident that the "Board of Directors" note upset a lot of people - both ex-SGM'ers but more importantly fans and SGM members. I was incredibly impressed to notice that over this season, the SGM moderators have begun allowing comments of all flavours on the official blogs and this really seems to show integrity and a willingness to admit they are not perfect.

Dave Harvey (interim President of SGM) released "An Honest Take on a Difficult Week" and I have to admit (not being a fan of Harvey admitted) I was very impressed with this statement. He wrote;

"Friends, critics, and curious onlookers,

I guess I'd fit under "curious onlooker" - as I'm not a critic (although accused strongly of being so).

"This week has been very challenging, and heading into the weekend I am aware of some places where we screwed up. I’ll make no attempt to be exhaustive, but here are some highlights:

Lack of clarity in Wednesday’s board announcement.
When we posted our resolutions on Wednesday, people were quick to infer that we were “circling the wagons.” And I think I understand that interpretation. We should have been a lot more clear about our resolve for self-evaluation, growth, integrity, and honest dialogue. So I’m not surprised that folks wrote to tell us of their heartbreak and stomach knots in response to our post, and I do regret that. Believe it or not, at the time we had a lot of people contacting us saying, ”We need to know exactly and without qualification what you think about all of this.” Communicating our “resolutions” seemed a precise way to convey all that. More seem to disagree than agree, and we’ve heard you. On top of that, we got more criticism even from our biggest fans on the lack of clarity in a couple of the resolutions. We amended the post to answer one common question, but I wish we had just nailed it the first time. All that to say, we messed up our delivery and in the process confused our #1 audience—the people in Sovereign Grace churches. It was a halting start for our new board, but we’re determined to do better. You all have asked a lot of valid questions and we’re grateful that these events mean so much to so many.

Lack of emphasis on self-evaluation.
When people are tempted to think that you are (and I’ll pull from our vast supply of quotes here) “gaming the system,” engaging in “cronyism,” “going to war,” behaving with “hubris,” “presumptuous and self-serving,” and, well you get the idea—you’ve got the burden of ensuring they know you get the point. What’s the point? God is drawing our gaze inward as an organization. Not in a hyper-introspective-there’s-no-mission-out-there manner. But in a way that makes it clear to everyone, we have problems. Some of these were already on the radar, others surfaced more recently. But we’re going to face them. All of them. What I want to get across to people through how we handle this (and not just with what we say) is that we want to be more rigorous in our self-examination than anyone else is with us. We want to be leading the charge in that, not playing catch up.

Process over people.
This insight came from a Sovereign Grace pastor, and looking back at our communication I have to say we are guilty as charged. For some reason we had this impulse that if we explained a series of steps of evaluation to everyone, that would somehow address the concerns that some members of our churches have about SGM more broadly. Now I think it would be wrong to paint every pastor, pastoral team, and church member with the same broad brush. But that doesn’t mean that there are no areas of our hearts and practice that need rigorous attention. I’m going to discuss some of those in a post next week. But even that isn’t the point here. The regrettable fact is that some dear members of Sovereign Grace churches have been hurt over the years, and no independent panel’s evaluation of us can fix that. We hope to do a better job of listening to those folks, learning from them, and owning where we’ve been wrong. See, if all we do is self-evaluate and improve our systems, failing in the meantime to pastor people through the process, we’ve missed the point. I’m committed, actually the whole board is committed, to not letting that happen".

Dave Harvey ended with an important reminder that is worth remembering in the heat and upset of the whirl-wind blog updates, comments from all;

"Before I close out, let me just say something that I think will resonate with all of us. God’s not asking us to choose between sides or between people here. He wants us to choose Him. We don’t have all the answers, but because of the cross we’re connected to the One who does. And he will help us show a watching world the unity we have in Christ. God is at work…for our good and His Glory!".


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gosh ...

This has certainly been a week for "constant change" in Sovereign Grace Ministries and the most recent shocking announcement is this;

"This past week we (the Sovereign Grace Board and Joshua Harris) came to the mutual decision that it would be best for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries for Joshua to step down from his role as a board member.

While still committed to our shared theological foundation and partnership in Sovereign Grace Ministries, as well as a common desire to walk through this unique season in a God-glorifying way, this change seems wise in light of certain points of disagreement over how best to proceed. Joshua also faces a sizable responsibility of steering Covenant Life through this trial and stepping away from his board role allows him to focus entirely on that task.

What remains unchanged is our affection, respect, friendship and partnership within Sovereign Grace. Joshua’s work on the board for the last three years has been important and we still want him to be a source of counsel for the board. To that end, Joshua has graciously agreed to continue joining board meetings as requested.

We celebrate the fact that in our family of churches, unity in the gospel doesn’t mean unanimity on secondary matters. Ultimately we believe this change will better preserve our essential unity while allowing Joshua to focus his attention on leading Covenant Life and the Board to provide leadership for Sovereign Grace in a time of crisis".

It's a definite shame - many, many people were tremendously encouraged by Joshua's loving concern and pastorship at last Sunday's meeting addressing the recent trials. However I am sure that Covenant Life Church will benefit from his increased attention, even though he may be missed on the SGM Board.

Dave Harvey produced a quick second blog post noting "Where we differ and where we agree". As one may expect, both the Board and Joshua agree "98%". The key disagreement is that Josh stated he believed that God is lovingly discipling SGM at this time.

The Board - it seems - have yet to decide on that.

Together on a Mission 2011 - Day 3!

Today was the final session Terry Virgo spoke at - so the thousands gathered knew it was going to be special. I just wasn't prepared for quite how special.

The lively Evan Rodgers from South Africa and then Dubai led worship which was the usual dancing and clappy songs and then Terry came to speak. He pointed out that a high chair had been set beside him and asked what it was for - he explained that he felt led to "sit and chat to us" for his last session. Here's what he said;

"I was working on the third part of Hebrews and there were some wonderful things there. "You have come to Zion!". But it was dying. So I prayed and God said that this is a historic event and I should chat about things that really matter. So therefore I want to highlight things that really matter to me.

1. God's Initiative.

"The mission of God" - this is God's mission not ours. He chose Jacob not Esau. He has known us before He formed us in the womb. God knew me before time began! God's free grace runs right through who we are. It gives us a sense of destiny. God has initiated some thing in His purpose for me. "Not dependent on who I am or what I have done or deserved - it is a gift of mercy from God". And the greatest thing we can do is align ourselves with Him!

2. God's Enabling.

The coming upon of the Holy Spirit is a matter of life and death! We were useless Christians! This isn't an academic issue. We knew "powerlessness". The Holy Spirit will come "upon" you. The next word in nearly every verse is "and". The Spirit comes upon us to do things. What was the secret of Samson? Not his muscles but the Spirit who came "upon" Him!

It is easy to be cessationist because when you believe in the Spirit's coming upon, you will always be wrestling.

The coming upon of the Spirit will always lead to things! "Already but not yet". God wants to empower us - it can leave us aching because we don't see as much as we want but we must press through because we need more of the Holy Spirit! We need the power of the Holy Spirit to see more of the Kingdom break out! Some would say we are dialling down on the Holy Spirit to become more missional - the Early Church would not see or allow that!

3. God's Commissioning.

We want to be a sent people. It is important to know what theological training does and does not do - it is not the same as being sent! That commissioning from heaven is a commissioning from God. The awareness is that we answer to Him! (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4). The sense of being called by God should make us almost invincible. "The church stands for divine truth and divine inspiration or it stands for nothing at all" - Matthew Parris - The Times. We do stand for so many truths. God has apprehended and commissioned us. We are answerable to Him alone.

4. Being a servant.

A servant doesn't require explanations. He wants His servants to do what they are told. They got used to doing what they are told and we only need to know that God has told us - not His explanation. God said about David; "A man who will do all My will". Let's have that characteristic - trust His providential overshadowing! Ken Gott prophesied millions of pounds and millions of people! Let that characterise who we are - we are to be the servants of God. Where is the sharp edge and the contrast?

5. Faith.

God loves faith! Sometimes we look at groups of churches and question some of their doctrine or practice but you cannot deny that they do great and bold things and God blesses that! He just seems to love faith! Mega churches are growing throughout China, India. We are in little league. The Chinese economy is coming alive and a secular writer commented that Chinese growth is being affected by the back bone of spiritual life. Launch out with faith - not just apportioning! Beware the danger of a passive Calvinism!

Charles Simpson once came and preached at the last Downs Bible Week. Our theme was "World Changer!" and he was initially somewhat cynical. He had been greatly hurt by the controversies affecting the Shepherding Movement in the USA. However in the weekend in between weeks, I had some precious fellowship and was able to share with him. The second week came and he changed his message to one inspired by our theme. 6,000 in a small field in Plumpton!

"Success-victory-winners!". Oh you English - God change us out of our cynicism. Launch us with faith!

6. Prayer.

"A move of God will last only as long as the spirit of prayer that brought it to birth" - (Arthur Wallis).

Jesus prayed a lot and with faith. Do you want to be like Jesus? He prayed a lot!

7. Gathering a Team.

That means to me, friends and companions. We gain friends! Not co-labourers but true friends. People who make up my areas of lack. Being interviewed helps you find out what you believe. What makes a team? Vulnerability. Have a team because we need a team. Draw from one another - prayer partners and men of the Spirit! Our team often find ourselves in "prophetic conversations" - you pray and then start talking and the whole conversation becomes prophetic! As elders - don't just sit around talking. Get before God! The team are by no means yes men. Go for it but with love!

Submission isn't saying "Yes" every time!

Terry then went on to cite the closest men in his team who have played such key parts in Newfrontiers.

Dave Holden
Dave Devenish
Colin Baron
David Stroud.
Jeremy Simpkin
Mike Betts
Guy Miller
Stephen van Rhyn
PJ Symthe
Steve Oliver
Edward Buria
John Kpipi
and Peter Brookes in the Pacific Rim!

This is a snapshot of "now" we are reminded! And there are young men such as Joel Virgo coming through. Terry then went on to give a lot of detail about changes from now in what is known as Newfrontiers.


The Newfrontiers Magazine will stop - penultimate edition.
The Newfrontiers Brighton office is closing.
Terry will begin to become "less and less" while the team men become "more and more".

On this he mentioned specifically travelling and ministering to non-Newfrontiers groups such as the Pentecostals in France. He mentioned visiting a "group who are struggling very recently in Washington DC" (no prizes for guessing who - but I am SO glad that they have asked Terry to come and have some input, that it isn't just limited to cessationist, Reformed men such as Mark Dever).

He then ended by a very moving and personal tribute to Nigel Ring - the man who has made so many of these conferences and Bible Weeks and so much of Newfrontiers possible. You could tell that Nigel was very moved and touched and surprised. I must admit to leaving the session feeling quite emotional and bittersweet - just like when we left Stoneleigh Bible Week 2001. But boy - am I glad that we went for these key messages of "Together on a Mission 2011"!

History in the making indeed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Together on a Mission 2011 - Day 2!

I don't think there could have been a clearer demonstration of the prophetic power of attending a charismatic conference like "Together on a Mission" than there was today.

I was sadly quite distressed to read a rather harsh statement from the SGM Board of Directors released just before the start of the 14:30 session that seemed to go against so much of the humility and gentleness that Josh Harris expressed in his message to Covenant Life Church last Sunday about the "Mahaney saga". Essentially they have almost dismissed Brent Detweiler's concerns because the documents have been leaked on the internet.

There could be no more perfect time to enter into worship led by my very favourite - the wonderful Kate Simmonds. She taught us a couple of new songs - all of which were focused on the truth "In Christ Alone". Our hope is in Him and Him alone! We then finished by singing; "Shout to the Lord!" - the glorious anthem that just truly lifted me into heaven. I reflected that yes - men come and go, men like Mahaney's live and die, governments come and go, SGM may rise or fall, but Jesus Christ and only Him is forever!

That time of worship truly geared my heart towards receptivity towards the preaching - Terry Virgo came forward to give his second address of the conference again in Hebrews 12:1-15;

His prayer; "Lift our hearts again and with fresh joy so we can run into what you have for us".

In the race it is possible for us to grow weary in well-doing and lose heart so the invitation comes again to look to Him. Christ genuinely is the answer to every statement and every problem! Jesus Himself presented Himself as the answer to every problem. Keep him in focus and as you do it can inspire robust faith! When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he walked on water! "Consider Him" - whatever circumstances, never turn your gaze away from Him.

Nothing compares to the Cross! The writer to the Hebrews says; "You are in danger of forgetting". Fear is beginning to dominate you - you have forgotten Proverbs 3; "My Son" - (v11-12). Hebrews have an OT perspective full of revelation of who they were yet they were forgetting they were sons.

God is not just wanting to get a job done! He is trying to bring many sons to glory!

He sent His beloved Son into human form to show us what sonship is all about.

He wants "sons" not just "sinners who have found their way to heaven" and we must keep our eyes on this or we will become full of self-pity.

Pressure is proof that we belong. You mustn't interpret that as "perhaps I don't belong". It means God is on my case. Evidence of His love!

The eagle stirs up her nest alone because she wants her young to fly. She wants them to catch the breeze on their wings!

"Jacob have I loved" - His special focus was on Jacob. Yet Jacob's life does not look like one specially loved. "From vessel to vessel" - why? Because I love Him! Jacob was a prince with God even though he was limping. It is the mark of one being loved. Jesus answered Satan's taunts knowing He was assured in His Sonship. God wants fully grown sons! (Phil 1:6); "He who began a good work in you". God is at work in me! (Ephesians 2:10) - we are His workmanship! (Hebrews 13:21); "what is pleasing". You have forgotten that He chastens.

The Hebrews had been through hard times. Injustice so often makes us feel "It's not fair!" but God uses it to get under our skin. People may write or blog about you without permission and you may lose your reputation even. Something in us wants to know why. If it makes sense it is okay - but God doesn't always explain why! "We were burned excessively!". Sometimes we can question if we can even carry on. Why? Because of His Father's love - we can carry on. Earthly fathers discipline children - they do what they think is best. Yet God does that so that we may share in His holiness.

God is at work in us to disturb our smugness - we are Reformed, we are restorationist, we are charismatic. You can get so clear and so sorted that you don't realise you are still wearing sunglasses. God shakes us to save us from pride! God led the children of Israel through the wilderness to humble them. Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh to save him from being exalted about measure. Joseph also saw a vision but then went to prison! David took out Goliath but then had to go to a cave! He has ways of handling us. Elijah told Ahab it would rain - and then it didn't! God and His loving ways of humbling us!

Terry has also had prophetic words; "I have need of you in Kingston". But it's just not happening yet. He is still in Brighton! When!?

"Contrite" means lamed. It describes a lame man - humble. Sometimes the best preaching comes from a personal softening by preachers (Psalm 119:17); "It was good for me that I was afflicted". It is how you respond to suffering that makes you holy - not suffering itself. You can go through things and actually miss the point! 1. Don't despise it. 2. Don't faint when you are reproved by Him. 3. Don't allow a root of bitterness to grow up. You can get angry - God uses people at times to humble us.

Instead it says "obtain grace"! Bitterness is a powerful thing and can get into your soul. We need grace to forgive! You will not learn and be trained if you carry the bitterness. Release again and again and again! You either let them pile up or you obtain grace!

You must not carry bitterness - it will wreck you!

"He learned obedience". How did the perfect One learn obedience? He learned to be a man yet He conquered again and again. God is calling us to flight! It isn't just knowing it - it's having churches free from bitterness. You can mess up God's plan to have glorious churches! We are not carrying bitterness - because we realise that He wants us to share His holiness. Refuse bitterness - let God purge it from your soul. "Exhortation that addresses you as sons". The greek is "dialogue or reason" with you.

When God chastens you, R T Kendall says; "He is not getting even - He got even at the Cross!".

"Hugging comes after wacking!" - Anna Virgo.

Respond appropriately! God wants to set us free. He wants you through the experience to find you healed. Is there anything in my life that I won't let people near? Don't be sensitive. Loosen it up! Face the pain - don't have no go areas. "Pursue peace with all men!". The word is active and it means "strive for". "Afterwards it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness". Jesus said "afterwards you will understand".

Personal word from Terry - God is saying to us; "You don't understand what I am doing now - but afterwards you will".

Childbirth makes the pain worth it! Because of the motivation of His love - God disciplines. He wants you rid of bitterness. Walk in freedom! Don't carry bitterness another day. Leave it here! There may be people you may wish to speak to. Pursue peace!".

Terry then led us into a very powerful time of ministry and called people who had been weighed down with bitterness to come forth and lay it down. The power of the Holy Spirit was very evident and I could hear people weeping. My heart went out and I wished that so many of my dear friends at SGM Survivors and Refuge who have been so hurt by C J Mahaney and SGM could have been there - to make their peace with their pain and to let the loving Christ come and heal their pain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Together on a Mission 2011 - Day 1!

As I mentioned previously, we are attending select sessions at the "Together on a Mission" conference in Brighton this year - namely Terry Virgo's three afternoon sessions each day, the Thursday Evening Prayer Evening and Dave Holden closing the conference.

So have just come back from the Day 1 afternoon session with Terry Virgo. I am glad to know that although I haven't been to Brighton since 2007 the wonderful heavenly-adjectives like "awesome!" and "amazing!" still very much describe this conference.

Simon Brading lead worship and I was amazed at his massive growth in maturity and experience to lead us into the Presence of God. We learned two new songs which were wonderful celebrations of the Cross and glorious ascension of our Lord and also sang the wonderful short song that I first heard Michael W Smith sing; "Alleluia, for the Lord God Almighty reigns". Amazing!

Terry Virgo then came up to speak and began as is customary for him - by recommending Dave Devenish's new book; "Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission - Restoring the Role of the Apostle in Today's Church". Terry said;

"Laying aside the biblical role these apostles took is a serious loss to the New Testament .. I have never seen such a through Biblical approach to apostles as David's book. We have been waiting for this book for decades!".

Terry's text was Hebrews 12:1-3 and here's what he said;

We are looking at themes God brings to us as we go into unprecedented way into world mission. I have been drawn to Hebrews 12 - R T Kendall in his excellent book said;

"Hebrews 11 would have no revelance or meaning to me at all if it were not possible to do what they did".

Then we come to chapter 12. "Now therefore". There are many turning points in the Bible (Romans 12, Ephesians 4:1). The uniqueness of our faith is that we come after what God has done. "Cloud" is a better word than "crowd". We are surrounded by voices speaking to us! Watching what they have done speaks to us. The Bible is their stories.

The Bible reveals itself in relationship - not in abstract theology.

The whole deal is stimulating faith. God wants us to be affected by them. "Witness" is "bearing witness" in the Bible - not so much watching. Not sure that the cloud of witnesses are actually physically watching us like as in an amphitheatre. They have something or Someone far better to watch than us! But through deed - they still speak.

"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down". It is worth it. It is worth trusting when we don't see the answers! Hebrews 12 is also saying; "You are not alone!". They say; "Keep going - He is faithful!". As we run this race (or contest) we must realise it isn't an 100 metre sprint - it is a marathon. This imagery of conflict is there for us! "Lay aside the weights/encumbrances/everything that hinders". Get light - get free from everything that would entangle you. He distinguishes between things that would entangle and sin.

(Galatians 5:7); "Who hindered you?". When Paul left, the legalists moved in.

Legalism stops you running in the race.

Why would you put on a heavy coat that weighs you down? But there is also a danger of a misapplication of grace. It is phenomenal freedom but we can trip over that freedom! All things are lawful but will it help you in the race? Sometimes the tragedy is - we lose the race because of grace! This is another value system and it does cost.

Fundamental things like "honour your father and mother" - from a biblical perspective this is a principle but there are other perspectives Jesus brings. "Let the dead bury their dead!". Jesus' mothers and brothers were worried He was out of His mind! He was saying; "I am in the race and nice and tidy principles have to be submitted to another truth". Does this principle entangle? This isn't sin - but things that entangle. Costly choices - Hudson Taylor fell in love with a girl before he went to China but he realised that China was not in her heart. He had to go. As we move into global mission, many will ask questions like; "Will this mean I never get married?". Things that hinder - lay them aside.

"Also the sin that can so easily entangle".

Paul does NOT write; "To the sinners". He writes; "To the saints"! You are new creation people! You are now; "in bondage to righteousness". You are completely free people! "Sinner" is NOT our identity.

But ... Paul wrote of "sin that can entangle". But he also wrote of sin that can "easily entangle". He furthermore wrote of "sin that can so easily entangle"!

The world will bombard us with it's value system - we need to find a glorious freedom by which the world was crucified to me. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to us! "Demas left me having loved the present age". This was the last reference in the Bible to him. Both guys came to the end of the race but so differently. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body!

We need apostolic doctrine to show us who we are in Christ. God BROKE the power of sin at the Cross. Lay aside Satan's accusations - his chief weapon is trying to get you despondent and depressed.

He bombards you and you either take it on board and say; "I am a wretch" or you resist the devil. "We overcome Him by the word of our testimony". Satan will constantly whisper to you; "I am a dead loss". Will you listen?

Group early photographs in the Charismatic Movement can be a sobering reminder - who has left the race.

"The sin" - which sin? Hebrews has the greatest deal to say about one sin - the sin of unbelief. Hebrews 3:12; "an evil heart of unbelief". When the Israelites came to the Promised Land they said "we are not able to go in". God was FURIOUS with them and instead allowed their children to go in.

If we will press into the nations, this is the victory that overcomes. Our faith! The book of Hebrews has to do with overcoming and inheriting our promises. Live and overcome with faith. Don't draw back! Let us believe God for Rio and Delhi! Run the race that is "marked out for you". The masters of the race have marked out a unique race of each - Moses, Elijah and Noah. We don't have to build Arks necessarily but we do have to believe God.

"God delights to deal singularly with us as though there was no one else to love". (R T Kendall).

You run the race that is marked out for you. "Run with perseverance". It is possible to slip into passive mode. Don't get passive - this word has patient expectancy about it. Be imitators of those with patience and faith! The whole Creation stands on tiptoe to see the unveiling of the sons of God. Resignation is not believing any more! Elijah sent the boy to look for the cloud 8 times. But he kept believing! "Looking (ahead) to Jesus". Don't get besotted with the things in your face - this one - the pioneer and perfecter.

Jesus was handed over and brutally crucified but He perfected faith! There are a lot of people who pioneer but do not finish a work. Jesus both perfected and pioneered faith!

Crucification was not a religious process. It was foul, it was nothing but shame. It was all of that but more for Jesus - it was loss of fellowship with the Father. God completely withdrew and He was alone. Yet He held the promise that God would raise Him up! Jesus took the curse. The curses in Deut 28 are terrifying! Yet Jesus took them all for us! "Despising the shame" - Jesus ignored the shame of the Cross as almost as though it were not worth thinking about. "For the joy set before Him! He looked ahead!".

There was something joyful behind this black day. What is the prize? He came for a glorious Bride! Millions of believers reconciled to God! He will wrap it up with a new heavens and a new earth! All will praise Him! The whole earth will be redeemed and be like the New Temple - nothing unclean! Babylon will be gone. New bodies! The devil will be in the Lake of Fire. God will know us all by names and know our story! He will dwell with us and Jesus will be enthroned - He will reign forever!

He didn't take much notice of the Cross - He was so besotted with these people He was bringing in! We are the Bride! What has He got for us?

"The greatest labour of love that ever happened was possible because of the greatest imaginable joy" (John Piper).

Let's run this race and glorify Him and be to Him a joy! We are at the end of the beginning and have barely started!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joshua Harris - Pastor of Pastors

I was really impressed listening to Josh Harris speak to Covenant Life Church yesterday addressing the whole situation regarding C J. On the one hand, you could tell his voice was trembling and close to breaking - it must be agonizing seeing a hero/father figure go through this. But on the other hand, he spoke with confidence and assurance and I was really touched by his pastor's heart. This didn't seem to me to be a P.R exercise (unless I'm easily duped) - he really cares for the people of Gaithersburg and loves them!

Proof that C J has done an excellent job raising up a spiritual son who is not afraid of honesty. Many Mahaney-ites are shouting about C J's humility and using words like; "Gossip" and "slander" against anyone who may read Brent's documents. But this quote from Josh Harris really gripped me for it's bravery;

"In a crisis like this, pastors can be tempted to two errors. 1. To say it's not as bad as it seems. 2. To say it's not your leaders fault. But I can't say that because it wouldn't be true. It IS as bad as it is and it IS the fault of your leaders ... it is our faulty structures that have brought this trouble ... our denomination is being publicly spanked, we are being humiliated and being brought low".

Surely he of all people could have been tempted to go on a PR campaign to downplay this and cover it up and reassure the people. But he has taken the brave and honest option - one that may disturb and upset but will ultimately result in changed lives for the glory of God.

Not all ex-SGM'ers agree with my thoughts - some are suggesting he is making a move for power (!) and others are suggesting it is a PR stunt - desperate. No one can actually tell his motives apart from the Lord and himself - but I felt it was absolutely heart felt and genuine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

When a Human Goes Down?

I wasn't actually going to comment on the C J Mahaney situation other than post the official statement I did. Funnily enough I don't have any gripe with SGM since my meeting with the Bristol pastors and the wonderful time that was. I've been enjoying forgiveness and it's wonderful release - so other than a mild interest and the denomination that my family are in, I was done! I haven't got involved in the length discussions on SGM Survivors and Refuge - many of them are feeling a sense of real vindication as could be expected.

But I was contacted quite rudely by a member of Christchurch Newport, who "was asked" to tell me to take down the link on my Facebook and essentially mind my own business - I had nothing to do with C J Mahaney and clearly had no business having an opinion or posting it. (By the way - my only comment on the link was "Interesting"). I was - to say the least - insulted that whoever had instructed this member (I have my suspicions) thinks that simply because of a few meetings last year I can be now told what to do.

So I thought I WOULD post some thoughts (only some).

First and foremost the leak of a massive collection of documents (allegedly by Brent Detweiler - although he has confirmed his authorship on his Facebook page) has been the source of the interest in the blogging world. I should state I have taken it with a pinch of salt because the documents have been leaked - and there is no confirmation from Brent himself that they are from him. However (thanks to my express reading) I have read them and like Julie (my fellow ex-SGM friend) found them interesting and saddening.

Points of interest:

1. Confirmation that C J Mahaney really did change his theology on the baptism of the Holy Spirit when the "Modification" note was produced by Jeff Purswell. According to the papers by Brent - (page 122 on Response regarding Friendship and Doctrine); Mahaney thought; "scholars for the Pentecostal position are much weaker". This surprised me as I had always been under the impression from tapes I have heard that Brent was by far the strongest theological member of the apostolic team.

Although Mahaney told Brent that this was a personal conclusion reached in 2007 - Brent wrote that he came under pressure as the only member of the apostolic team who held to a Pentecostal/Charismatic position. The other members (such as Dave Harvey) seemed to follow Mahaney suit. I suspected this when I read the Purswell paper but was assured by SGM members frequently that Mahaney was "truly charismatic". Seemed so familiar to our home church experience in Dunstable.

2. Treatment of Larry Tomczak (p1333 of Concluding Remarks). Again assuming that this paper is genuinely from Brent - I was quite horrified (as were many) to read that Mahaney threatened Larry with revealing past sin told in confidence to him by Larry's son Justin. This blackmail brought back hideous memories of the threats made to me when I attempted to leave Grace Church in Bristol - that all pastors would be written to and told of the sins I confessed. I can see now why Peter Greasley would have instructed this action.

However those two points of interest aside, here's what really occured to me;

a. C J Mahaney is really blessed by God to have a friend like Brent Detweiler. If the man has gone to this effort to care for Mahaney's soul then indeed "faithful are the wounds of a friend". I have always been taught that a friend is far more worthy if he is prepared to offend, rather than be surrounded by "yes" men who pamper egos and never say "No".

b. C J Mahaney is human. Does the revelation of these sins bother me or surprise me? Other than he is responsible for thousands of people in SGM and the concern for them - no. He has always said; "He is the vilest of all sinners" - so can it be a surprise if he is proven to be a sinner? I won't write Mahaney off because of this - and do actually respect him greatly for finally stepping down to examine his soul (although my prayer for him is that he would finally discover the glorious grace of God and find that his sins were indeed TRULY dealt with at the Cross!).

c. Will I judge Mahaney because of this? No - because I'm was a sinner too so how can I?

My only prayer is that this won't damage the faith of Mahaney fans who truly have idolised the man. I know how painful it is - many of us idolised Stanley Jebb in Dunstable and were deeply hurt by his change of doctrine on the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1997 and subsequent migration to cessationism. It is hard when you realise your idols have feet of clay! I honestly do hope and pray that God uses this to His glory and brings true humility to the Mahaney family and indeed the whole of SGM.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Brighton Conference ... with a difference!!

Well I am really excited that this time next week we will be in Brighton having enjoyed the last "Together on a Mission" conference that will be held. However in 2005, 6 and 7 we booked to go to the whole conference and went to the packed week. The conference has always been the most powerful encounter with God that I have had - Word and Spirit combined together in power!

This year I have decided to enjoy the conference slightly differently. We are going to one session a day - namely Terry Virgo's afternoon session. On the Thursday of next week - we will also be going to the unforgettable Prayer and Offering Evening and then on the Friday (the last day of the conference) we will be going to the last session to hear Dave Holden speak and close the conference.

I have never yet been to a Brighton conference and come away untouched so am massively full of hope for what next week will bring!

Dave Harvey Responds on C J Mahaney

Dave Harvey (who is temporarily leading SGM) responded;

"We understand that this news may strike some as sudden and surprising. However, a process has been unfolding over a number of months in which the board has sought to evaluate charges against C.J., assist him in examining his heart and pursuing reconciliation, and bring accountability and guidance to him in this process. Because some of the charges move beyond C.J. to SGM, we also wanted to examine ourselves and our practices both past and current. To that end, we are in the process of securing help from an outside organization that can conduct a thorough and objective review of the charges being brought against C.J. and SGM. We are seeking to identify an organization that has no prior history with us and that has wide respect in Christian circles, and we will keep you posted on that search process as we make progress. We have by no means guided this process flawlessly, but we are learning and growing through this long and difficult process. And we are encouraged by how God appears to be leading us".

I think Mahaney has made a bold and humble move to step down and admit these things. No one is perfect and no one is beyond need of grace - and hopefully by God's grace he will accomplish what the Lord hopes for his life - and be restored to his unique giftings in whatever way is deemed appropriate.

C J Mahaney Steps Down (Temporarily)

I was startled yesterday to read this;

July 2, 2011

My friends,

I need to inform you about some recent developments that I believe are expressions of God’s mercy and intended to serve our future together as a family of churches.

Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace. These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read. These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.

I believe God is kindly disciplining me through this. I believe I have by the grace of God perceived a degree of my sin, and I have been grieved by my sin and its effects on others. I have had the opportunity to confess my sin to some of those affected in various ways by my sin. And I am so very grateful for their forgiveness. But I want to perceive and confess any and all sin I have committed. Although my experience of conviction has already started—and this is an evidence of God’s mercy—I’m sure there is more for me to perceive and acknowledge. Even with the charges I disagree with it has been beneficial to examine my soul and ask for the observation of others. And I am resolved to take responsibility for my sin and every way my leadership has been deficient, and this would include making any appropriate confessions, public or private. Most importantly I want to please God during this season of examination and evaluation.

So here is what I am going to do. I’ve asked to take a leave of absence in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart, and receive the appropriate help from others. With the guidance of the SGM board, I would also hope to pursue reconciliation with former pastors of Sovereign Grace during this leave. I have stepped off the board and I will not be the President of Sovereign Grace Ministries during this period of examination and evaluation. In order for me to receive an objective evaluation in relation to these charges the board is securing the help of a ministry called Ambassadors of Reconciliation ( This ministry was chosen due to its professional credentials, and it has no history of relationship with SGM. A team from this organization will conduct a thorough investigation and evaluation and submit their objective findings and recommendations to the board at the conclusion of this process. After processing these findings, the board will determine the appropriate steps I should take going forward. This leave of absence will also help remove any impediment to the panel’s exploration that could potentially arise if I remained in my current position, and it will enable me to fully cooperate in the process.

Just so you’ll know, I have also contacted David Powlison and Mark Dever and asked them to review the charges and provide me with their counsel and correction. I have enlisted them to serve me personally during this time and to ensure this process of examining my heart and life is as thorough as possible. And for the past year I have been the recipient of Ken Sande’s correction, counsel and care. That, I am grateful to say, will continue. And as you would expect I will continue to meet with the appropriate men on the board of Sovereign Grace and benefit from their correction, counsel, and care as well. I am deeply moved as I reflect on how rich I am relationally and I am humbled by the time these men are willing to spend serving me and Sovereign Grace.

My friends, I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I continue to walk through this process. Please pray that God would give me the gift of sight where I have been blinded by would give me the gift of sight where I have been blinded by my sin and others have been adversely affected by my sin. Pray that I will be convicted and experience godly sorrow resulting in reconciliation where necessary and adjustments to my heart and leadership. Thank you for praying in this way for me.

One more thing. For the past 5 years or so I have become increasingly aware of certain deficiencies in my leadership that have contributed to deficiencies in Sovereign Grace Ministries’ structure and governance, the lack of a clear and consistent process of conflict resolution and pastoral evaluation, and the number of former Sovereign Grace pastors who are offended with me/SGM. I have met with some and by God’s grace there has been reconciliation with men like Larry Tomczak (I wish I had recognized and repented of my sin against him years ago). This brings great joy to my soul. In other cases, appeals for mediation have thus far been declined, but I’m hopeful this process will facilitate further reconciliation. But beyond this, there are still issues that need to be addressed and fixed in our family of churches. And I bear a primary responsibility because it has happened on my watch and under my leadership. I have resolved that I and the Sovereign Grace team can’t effectively lead us into the future without evaluating the past, addressing these deficiencies, improving our structure, and as much as possible pursuing reconciliation with former pastors. So during this leave of absence I will not only devote all the appropriate and necessary time to the independent panel and the charges but also to doing what I can to identify where I have failed to lead us effectively in relation to pastoral evaluation and conflict resolution.

My friends, though my soul can be easily overwhelmed as I contemplate my sin and its effects I am also resolved to examine my heart, address the past, and play my role in preparing Sovereign Grace for a future of planting and serving churches. And given the mercy of God portrayed in the gospel my heart is filled with hope that his good purpose for us will come to pass and cannot be frustrated. And I can’t thank God enough for you men and your support. Please pray for me.

With deep gratefulness,


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Our Glorious Hope of Heaven!!

I took my best friend to a Janet Jackson concert recently in London. I'm not particularly a Janet fan so was quite startled to find myself crying unreservedly during her final encore song; "Together Again". Janet devoted the song to her brother Michael and during the song pictures of them came up on the screen.

The lyrics of the song say;

"Everywhere I go
Every smile I see
I know you are there
Smilin' back at me
Dancin' in moonlight
I know you are free
Cuz' I can see your star
Shinin' down on me".

The reason it so moved me was reminding me of people I have loved and have gone to glory. Hebrews speaks of "a great cloud of witnesses" - this song reminded me of that! Loved ones who are now enjoying glory and the Presence of God "smiling down on us", excited as we are used by God to accomplish His purposes. These are my nearest and dearest I think of waiting;

Val Borrows - a lady at my home church in Dunstable who was a dear friend and like a second mum. She went to heaven back in 2001;

My beloved Grandma and Grandpa;

And of course Ern Baxter - a spiritual father in the faith who went to glory in 1992;

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Desperate Need for Word AND Spirit

One of the reasons I had a profound respect for the "Life in the Spirit Conference" was it's unique emphasis on reformed doctrine and charismatic experience. It is a small, not so well known conference that takes place annually in the UK and has had some well known speakers such as Terry Virgo, Ern Baxter, Roy Clements and others. My senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb used to be on the committee and was a regular speaker.

One year back in 1987 he made this profound statement - that still holds so true;

"Neither a neglect of the words He has given or a denial of the power He provides will ultimately glorify Him. We need both! Anyone (unless they are ignorant) cannot say that the reformed camp or the charismatic camp have it all".

He was speaking on; "Reformed Doctrine and Charismatic Experience" - the one message that sums up the conference, and indeed the desperate need of the hour. I am not convinced that even these many years later that we are closer to uniting Word and Spirit but so desperately need it. Fuel and fire!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ern Baxter Joins the William Branham Crusade!

I have purchased a new CD-Rom from the wonderful "Revival Library" run by Tony Cauchi of Newfrontiers down in Southampton. It is an amazing historic collection of "The Voice of Healing" magazines from 1947 to 1966 - tracing the Healing Movement.

It's interesting - the Healing Movement is often criticized by cautious people who were put off by certain excesses or at times heretical statements made by some of the men and woman leading the Movement. But the actual miracles of healing don't seem to be denied. And I want to read and learn how these men and women were used of God so that we can not copy their mistakes but see these signs and wonders come back!

One comment on the back of the CD-Rom caught my attention particularly concerning Gordon Lindsay. It says;

"God raised up Gordon Lindsay to be a catalyst and chronicler of the revival and the Voice of Healing magazine was the vehicle he employed".

I have often wondered what my calling from God is - and I probably feel most affinity with this; "chronicling" through my transcribing. Now all I pray is that God will begin a move of His Spirit to chronicle! But I wanted to show one article in particular that is of special meaning to me: