Sep 302014

timthumb.phpOrthodoxys identity problem…

How the news makes us dumb…

Every Christian wants to leave Iraq…

More Americans remain unmarried…

Interesting take on the story of the widows mite…

A theology of billboards…

The state of the Bible 2014...

9 things you should know about atheism…

Tony Campolos son leaves the faith…

Great word from Steve Brown…

Mars Hill giving update…

Sarah on the joys of reading fiction…

Matt B. Redmonds random thoughts…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on the narrative of Driscoll…

This weeks podcast if you missed it…

Sep 292014

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The lawsuit brought by the one part of Chuck Smith’s family against other family members is going to generate a lot of publicity and a lot of opinions, both informed and uninformed.

To write about the situation in a way that would bring real understanding requires a book, not a blog article.

This is the exposure of what has been known by insiders for decades…that this was and is a highly dysfunctional family.

The only questions now are around how much of the cause and effects of that dysfunction will be revealed.

If this lawsuit goes to trial it will not protect the legacy of Chuck Smith.

It well could destroy a large part of it.

No one will come out of this untainted.

If this action had been brought to determine the lawful ownership of the various properties that Smith founded as part of the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa empire, it would be understandable at some level.

To frame this action around a grieving widow suffering from dementia while making accusations of abuse is utterly beyond my understanding.

I will answer two questions I keep getting… to the best of my understanding.

First, there are questions about the Smith children’s inheritance.

All I will say is that Chuck Smith provided opportunities for his children while he was alive that many thought were scandalous in themselves.

I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry at those concerns.

Second, I’ve never heard even a whisper of concern that his widow would not be or is not being be both provided for and cared for.

If the proof is there, bring it forward…until then I will believe the family has more than enough assets (and desire) to care for her.

More assets than most families in the same situation…

2. In my opinion, (carefully framed to avoid unnecessary litigation) this move is also about who will control the Calvary Chapel movement going forward. In other words, there will be those who want to make political hay of this…I heard the combines fire up quite some time ago.

3. When I think about what everyone involved in this mess has to lose the word “settlement” is written in fire on my computer screen…

4. Teddy Bridgewater looked really good yesterday… really good.

5. Christianity Today has picked up the story and sees the narrative being presented….that being that Brian and Cheryl Brodersen “hastened the death” of Chuck Smith. I already have heard that this narrative is being repeated in Calvary Chapels all over the country. If that narrative gains traction, the wave could sweep the Brodersens out of CC…see #2…

6. Speaking of narratives…when a Muslim beheads a woman and we call it “workplace violence” and pretend that religious ideology was irrelevant, that narrative should be called a “fairy tale”.

7. I feel like a need a bath after writing this column…

8. There seems to be no end to the goals of the social thought police. My Facebook feed has articles every week now telling me what I should find attractive and beautiful in the opposite sex and inferring that I am an oppressive beast if not every body type or appearance appeals to me. These articles are usually accompanied by pictures of half dressed or fully undressed people of every body type and appearance that we’re supposed to appreciate…or else. Add these to all the articles about what we should eat, what we should wear, and what phone we should use if we’re going to be right thinking citizens .Why in the world can’t we just agree that there are different strokes for different folks…are we going to legislate taste and preference now? For the record, I like redheads, pork chops,  iPhones, the mountains over the sea, and the ESV over the KJV… and I don’t care what you think about any of the above.

9. Nothing like discussing the assets of the rich and religious instead of the Gospel…said Jesus never…

10. Finally, the real news today is that it’s Jerry Lee Lewis 79th birthday. Happy birthday to the Killer…the greatest that ever lived.

Sep 282014

thumbnail.aspxO Changeless God,

Under the conviction of the Spirit I learn that

The more I do, the worse I am,

The more I know, the less I know,

The more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,

The more I love, the more there is to love.

O wretched man that I am!

O Lord,

I have a wild heart

And cannot stand before thee;

I am like a bird before a man.

How little I love thy truth and ways!

I neglect prayer,

By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,

By knowing thou hast saved my soul.

Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,

Who sins more safely because grace abounds,

Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,

Who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for his is saved,

Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives


My mind is a bucket without a bottom,

With no spiritual understanding,

No desire for the Lord’s Day,

Ever learning but never reaching the truth,

Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.

My conscience is without conviction or contrition,

With nothing to repent of.

My will is without power of decision or resolution.

My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.

My memory has no retention,

So I forget so easily the lessons learned,

And thy truths seep away.

Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.

Sep 272014

A lawsuit has been filed in Orange County alleging elder abuse and neglect in the death of Chuck Smith.

The “nephew’ in this report would be Bradley Smith, Jeff Smiths son.

Chuck Smith Jr.  was present when his father died and his account of his fathers death differs more than a little from what is presented in this lawsuit.

Rumors of this suit have been flying since Smith’s death…neither Manderson-Smith nor her brother Jeff attended the funeral for their father in protest over how things were handled when Chuck Smith died and afterwards.

Intense conflict over who would pastor Costa Mesa and control the Calvary Chapel empire was happening up to very close to Smith’s death.

We’ll speak more to this later…the only surprise here is how long it took to file this.


We now have a response from Chuck Smith Jr.

“A year ago today I invited my brother and sisters into my home to meet with a mediator. My concern was that we agree to set aside our differences and commit ourselves to Dad’s comfort and well-being in light of his declining health. After four hours of airing our feelings and grievances, everyone was on board. Sadly, we did not realize how short a time we would have to hold it together before Dad would leave us for heaven’s brighter shore.

The following evening I spent the night with Dad in the hospital and was there the next morning when his caregiver arrived and one by one his doctors came to tell him they had exhausted all their resources and were going to send him home to begin hospice care.

For the record, I want it to be known that I do not support the lawsuit my sister Janette and brother Jeff have filed against Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. In my opinion it is groundless, deplorable, dishonoring to our father (and to his work, not to mention the people to whom he dedicated his life). It is another sad stain on the representation of Christianity. The only motivation I can see for the suit is malice and greed. Any pretense to honor my father’s name or provide adequate care and support for my mother is nonsense.

I do not know the woman who was interviewed by ABC outside of Calvary Chapel, but almost every word she spoke was false. She was not present when my father passed, I was. She did not speak with the paramedics that night, I did–and also to the police officer who took the report. I can guess where she got her information and I do not blame her, because I am well aware of what convincing stories her sources can tell.

There were two registered nurses in my parents’ home the night of my dad’s death. Once everyone who was there has been interviewed it will be evident how ludicrous is the claim that his caregiver or anyone else put off calling for emergency help that might have saved his life. Dad had been sent home to die. One doctor told him (in my presence) that the cancer was too out of control and spreading too rapidly for them to do anything else for him.

Also, contrary to one specific allegation, as incredible as it seemed to me (and I queried him several times in the hospital), Dad was not in pain or distress in the days and hours prior to his death. Several family members were in his home that day who can corroborate this fact. As for his passing, I posted last year how peacefully sublime was his transition from here to heaven.

After Dad died, his caregiver called to notify the hospice nurse who was to come in later that morning. The hospice nurse instructed her to inform the police so that the coroner could confirm the time of death. It was the hospice nurse who advised us NOT TO CALL 911. She said that paramedics rushing as if responding to an emergency could be very disturbing for my mom. The caregiver explained this to the rest of us and one person present volunteered to make the call. For some reason, he chose to dial 911 (later that day, he attempted to raise my dad from the dead). After the paramedics hurried in with all their gear, they were not asking us why they weren’t called sooner, but why they were called at all. It is not their job to tend to the “deceased.”

No one on this planet loved my father more or had greater respect for him and his ministry than his caregiver–who was at all times in Dad’s employ and never my brother-in-law’s. Her years of loyal service while living in my parent’s home is evident in her presence with him in every doctor’s appointment and the three-inch-thick volume of notes and medical reports that she maintained regarding both Mom and Dad. What is troubling to me is the way she was summarily dismissed. She also regularly medicated and dressed sores on my dad’s feet and legs that were not healing properly and spoke up for him in doctor’s visits or with nurses in the hospital when he failed to mention certain symptoms or health issues.

I doubt the lawsuit will make it to a courtroom. Once the review of financial reports and bank statements has begun and depositions are taken, I suspect that the suit will quickly disintegrate. My heart goes out to anyone who out of love for my dad donates money to support what is in my eyes a scam that is being perpetrated mostly by my brother and surviving uncle.

Some years ago I chose to live at a distance from Calvary Chapel for various personal reasons. Unfortunately, it is impossible to create the same distance from the antics of family members. I do not intend to sound off again on this ugly drama or provide running commentary. In time, the facts will speak for themselves. I suppose I’m old school in thinking that family matters are to be resolved within the family and its dirty laundry is supposed to be left in the hamper or laundry room until washed and made presentable. I wish that none of the squabbles had been taken public, because now that there’s a breach in the damn I fear a flood of ugliness will follow. After all, who knows our flaws and failures better than family?

I do hope that anyone who has made it to the end of this post will take heart. The man who had been “Papa Chuck” to thousands of young people, consistently taught through the Bible year after year, led many people to the Christian faith, and sustained them in the love of God, was like everyone of us “all too human.” His hope is the same hope we all share; namely, that when all is said and done God’s grace will have the last word.”

Sep 262014

image.adapt.960.highA couple of weeks ago a forest fire consumed most of a small town south of where I live.

Over a hundred homes and businesses burned to the ground, including the largest employer in the area.


In a matter of hours, homes, jobs, and histories disappeared into ash.


It was and is a tragedy, but the fire and ashes are not the final words in this story.

While the fire was still doing it’s damage, neighboring communities were already preparing to help.

Today, the town has now received more donations of clothing and supplies than it can use.

The fire is out and the ashes have grown cold…and new life is being planned and built on the scars.

It’s a Bible story burned into the woods.

There is hope.

There will be redemption.

All about us are people who are either going through the fire or who are poking through the ashes of what was, looking for what’s left.

Some of them set the fires that consumed them.

Some were caught in the circumstances common to a fallen world.

They are looking for hope.

They want to believe in redemption.

You may be called to help write the rest of a good Bible story.

Make your own application…

Sep 252014

american-flag2My son can no longer wear any clothing to school that has an American flag on it.

He cannot wear a or display a lanyard he kept keys on because it was imprinted with the Christian fish symbol.

Someone may get offended.


They would probably be much more offended at my response to their offense, because now, I’m offended too.

No one cares more about immigration reform and migrant rights than I do.

Having said that, and having proven it at no small cost… if our flag offends you, go somewhere else where you don’t have to see it.

If any display of faith offends you, follow the ones that have flag issues.

I don’t consider myself a nationalist or even a “patriot”…but this is ridiculous.

One of the reasons you came here in the first place was to enjoy the liberty to be who you were created to be and to think and speak freely and safely.

If that freedom now offends you, feel free to go somewhere it doesn’t exist…but don’t try and take it from us.

My hope is that at some point the state will understand that the job of the school is education, not to to be some sort of social mill turning out vacuous clones of some ideal, faithless, non offensive, drone.

They should see the T-shirt I’d like to send him to school in now…

Bad language alert…if swear words offend you, stop reading now.

There is a big dust up over on the “Naked Pastors” Facebook page.

The ex wife of a well known “emergent” pastor and writer is telling the story of her (alleged) abuse at his hands.

The thing that caught my attention was that the word was (allegedly) spread by his equally well known peers that this woman was “batshit crazy”.

( I have to say “allegedly” because the Christians are already getting lawyered up).

I first heard this phrase in a pastors meeting and I think I heard it almost every week in those meetings.

Since that time almost three decades ago, I still hear that phrase when a woman is speaking up about abuses in the home.

There is a systemic devaluation of women in the culture of American evangelicalism…and it’s a far bigger spiritual problem than anything the gays can throw at us.

Hypocrisy isn’t just a a religious problem.

The national media is up in arms demanding that the NFL police the character and morals of it’s players.

I suppose that’s fine, if the players union and the league come to agreements about such policies.

I wonder though why the media isn’t as up in arms about the music that many of these players listen to and is the backbeat of the popular culture.

I had my son give me the names of the five most popular songs on his peers iPods in the seventh grade…then I looked up the lyrics to those songs.

The result was a collection of the most sexist, misogynistic, violent, filth imaginable.

That filth is being pumped into 12 year old brains through $300.00 headphones.

That’s what they listen to at recess.

But the flag offends them…

Back to my cave.


Sep 242014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aToday, like every Wednesday, we will remember Saeed Abedini.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

 There will be a prayer vigil for Saeed’s release on Sept 26.

Sep 232014

timthumb.phpBecause I’m not spending much time online, this is basically a “BYOL”…bring your own LINKS!.

What caught your eye online?

Driscoll’s heir apparent…and already in trouble.

Does ISIS represent true Islam?

20 countries where Christianity is growing fastest…

Bible reading destroys the church…

Faithful unto death…what we can learn from Polycarp.

Another Pew Report on religion and politics…

Rachel Evans on the culture that enabled Driscoll…

Wenatchee the Hatchet does brilliant work on the Mars Hill story…

Sep 222014

thinking-pic1. I’m still working through some health and personal situations that require my attention…posting will be sporadic and moderation minimal to non existent. If I don’t respond to a comment, it’s not because it’s not a good comment…I’m just not in front of the computer.


2. One of the issues I’m thinking about is how much blogging has changed since I started the PhxP long ago. Back then, few sites where available for victims of church abuse to have a voice…now there are many and many good ones. My concern is that we still aren’t talking about meaningful solutions to the issues raised…and that’s what I want to find a way to contribute at this point in my life.

3. The easiest articles to write are the ones ripping someone, especially someone who richly deserves a ripping. They draw attention and post numbers…but I believe that if those articles aren’t accompanied with constructive solutions to the issues raised and a Gospel hope of grace then we bloggers have already received our reward…

4. One of the other major changes in the blogging world on church abuse issues is that most of us writing back then wrote as lovers of the church. Now, many not only loathe bad leaders, but the church itself. I still love the church…and believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about when He promised the gates of hell would not prevail.

5. Well known Reformed author Michael Horton has written a book on the subject of vocation. The best book on that topic was written by Matt B. Redmond and it’s called the “The God Of The Mundane”. Horton would have served himself and the church better to just make a book recommendation…

6. It makes absolutely no sense to me why we are demanding that sports franchises become the moral arbiters for the culture. It further confounds me why we don’t understand that the only reason they would do so was for economic, not ethical reasons.

7. Too many of us are reacting instead of thinking…and that’s part of why I’m on semi-sabbatical as well. I don’t want to be just another voice yelling across the line at someone else, hoping others will yell with me.

8. There are times in life when God will bless you unilaterally…but there are other times when He will respond only to prayer. You don’t have because you don’t ask…

9. I believe that everyone has spiritual gifts that are an integral part of a functional local body of believers. Are you using yours? Are you allowed to? Do you care?

10. I have to hand it to the Lutherans…Issues Etc. is the best Christian media program being produced today.