Linkage

1. The Washington Post is interested in what is going on in Sovereign Grace Ministries.

2. Beatles blogger extraordinaire, Matt Blick has been blogging his way through Abbey Road. Beatles fans, your mind will explode with information…in a good way, though. Absolutely fascinating.

3. NOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo…

4. Who doesn’t like a good waking-up-from-a-coma story? Well, here’s ten of ’em.

5. I’m obsessed with the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. The tragedy Taleisin adds to the fascination..

6. OK, you convinced me. I’m going to buy a go-cart Prius now.

7. I mean why would a lawless administration care about laws?

8. Damn, Tea Party.

9. This is awesome and makes me hungry for chicken teriyaki.

10. The greatest (non-bacon) customer service story ever told.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. My wife made Carnitas last night and they were awesome. (I’m actually typing this on Wednesday but I’m pretty certain they will be awesome. Update: Awesomeness confirmed)

2. Choosing chopsticks over a fork is like choosing the telegraph over the iPhone.

3. C.S. Lewis volunteered for WWI and yet loved Jane Austen. I’ll take his manliness over the faux-manliness of the UFC-loving guys.

4. I love saying “Carnitas”.

5. I know I’m supposed to be thankful in all circumstances but does that include the circumstance of a song by Gloria Estefan?

6. I only eat free-range corn dogs.

7. I couldn’t be a pacifist if only because I like the Bourne movies and Taken too, too much. And i long for the day of conceal carry for rocket-launchers.

8. Did you know Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake”? But the real shocker is that Calvin Coolidge did say “Let them eat Bacon.”

9. I don’t trust people that don’t like Ray Charles.

10. “CARNITAS”

Tim Challies Calls It a Personal Matter Between Mahaney and Detwiler…Detwiler Calls Him On the Carpet (Updated)

Update: An Insider’s View of the SGM Controversy

Earlier today Tim Challies wrote about what is going on in Sovereign Grace Ministries. I was at first glad to see this but then absolutely astounded. He believes this is a “personal” matter between C.J. Mahaney and Brent Detwiler, which the later has elevated to tabloid journalism and he should have just left it to the Lord to handle.

Incredible.

Detwiler has already responded briefly and states he will do so more thoroughly later but I wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts.

1. I cannot for the life of me understand how Challies could call this a personal matter after reading the documents. Indeed, I have trouble believing he did read them. The concerns which Detwiler and others (making it by definition not personal) have been going to Mahaney about for years involve many other people and the way Mahaney has lead them and the denomination. Add to this, much of Detwiler’s concerns are in regards to the SGM board – how can this be called merely personal? Sure it’s personal but not only merely personal.

2. Challies, with a wave of the hand, dismissed the blogs and refused to discuss the concerns. That’s rich. I can only assume he would not want to discuss the handling of sexual abuse cases and the hundreds if not thousands of lives represented on the blogs. By ignoring the blogs Challies is able to give the impression that this is only a personal disagreement between Mahaney and Detwiler.

3. For Challies (on his own blog by the way) to decry the public nature of it all is ridiculous. Detwiler sent his documents to other pastors in SGM, no one outside SGM. Someone else leaked them. Why would someone do this? Because Mahaney and SGM have worldwide influence and their books, songs and sermons swim into the ears of thousands upon thousands. Again, how could such problems be called merely personal.

I am incredulous. There is no way to read these documents and think this is merely a personal matter

Tuesday’s 10: My Favorite Posts On This Blog

1. Echoes and Stars. It’s where the name of the blog came from and it’s about the glorious early history of my wife and I

2. Go Ahead and Be Nobody Special. Whether it will be the last chapter of my book like I want, I am not sure but I love this little piece of writing.

3. Ten Lessons Learned From Eugene Peterson About Pastoral Work. I’m still learning from and thankful for this man, his ministry, his books and increasingly, his Message.

4. Going Green Eggs and Ham on “Blue Like Jazz”. I’m not a good apologizer but Don is a good forgiver.

5. 10 Things I Say To My Wife That Make Our Marriage Great. Just go read it and feel free to use these yourself.

6. A Mother’s Day Sermon…If I Had To Preach One. By far my most popular post, I still get thank you notes from all over the world in response to it.

7. Christmas Is for Haters. This one was picked up by TGC and should be somewhere on the Chrsitainty Today site in December.

8. 10 Thoughts On the Present Criticism of the American Dream. If I had one post that I think needs to be read by today’s young people, this is it.

9. The Silence of Paul on Evangelism. Sometimes the Emperor has no clothes on and you have to say something.

10. This Peace With God. Part of a series. One I hope to pick up again.

Updated: Why We Should Care About What Is Happening In Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)

(Update: The father of one of the victims of sexual abuse responds to the pastors of CLC.)

(Update 2: A Powerful Note To C.J. Mahaney…And A Request From A Reporter. Note: If the rest of the Christian news world does not get on this…)

I’ve been asked why I care about the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) controversy. It’s not a bad question but the better question is probably, “Why aren’t more people talking about?” Why don’t they care enough to discuss it?

My guess is there is too much to lose. Followers have have read the books, sang the sings and been to the conferences and walked away too happy to question that there could be huge systemic problems within such an influential group of pastors/churches. The pastors who have very public ministries and are colleaugues and friends of CJ see this as too huge a loss for T4G and TGC and so say nothing. Are they hoping it will all go away? Would they be so silent if it were someone outside of their circle?

Someone needs to write a post comparing the furor over Rob Bell and the silence over the pastors of SGM.

Regardless, here are some thoughts as an outsider:

1. For years I have been pointed to CJ Mahaney and SGM to learn from them. I have pointed others to them also. This is an opportunity to continue learning, most likely we can learn how not to lead and what kinds of authority structures to be wary of.

2. As of now, some SGM pastors have publicly apologized and reached out to those on the blogs (and this does not include Josh Harris’ public statements.) But this was only after the leak of Brent Detwiler’s documents (approaching 71,000 total reads) detailing the struggles to keep CJ accountable by the same standards he expects of others. It took such a thing as the leaking of these (emails, etc.) to get SGM pastors to acknowledge their callous handling of the victims of sexual abuse, using other people’s sins as blackmail, etc. That is terribly instructive. It is good it is happening, it is sickening it took the release of the documents.

3. We are no longer in a situation “if this is true then…” Too much has already been admitted by pastors of SGM churches. We are way past the ability to call this gossip. When we call this all mere gossip, we seek to silence those who have been crying out for years for justice and we do so from the safe side of those in power. But we as believers, should be longing to hear from those who have suffered, this is who we should be fighting for.

4. If we as a church ignore those who have been hurt in these kinds of situations because we do not want to push against a celebrity pastor, it proves we do not really care about justice. We toy with justice only. For four years a handful of blogs (start here and here) have been detailing abuses and injustice and only now are the SGM pastors acknowledging them. You may ask, “Are blogs the best way for victims to air their complaints?” They tried other means and were often further victimized.

5. Pastors under discipline at SGM churches have been expected to stay in their SGM churches after being removed from the pulpit, being “degifted” and otherwise. CJ Mahaney has refused to do this even though he was asked to do so by the other pastors of Covenant Life Church (the church he started and the flagship of SGM) and is now attending Capital Hill Baptist Church, a non-SGM church. The rules seem to have changed.

Before you dismiss all of this with a wave of the hand read this story aaaaand this one. Just two of the stories that are not being dismissed by the pastors of Covenant Life Church.

Linkage

1. Starting on high note…who doesn’t like pictures of puppies?

2. My former professor admirably addressed Rob Bell’s book on hell.

3. Max Hastings of the UK Mail beautifully takes on the rioters in England.

4. Folks, we have a release date and tracklisting for the new release by Ryan Adams.

5. If you think Sarah Palin is dumb, you are either in the tank or you are not paying attention. Feel free to disagree but dispense with the laziness.

6. CJ Mahaney’s sons-in-law have resigned from CLC, the church CJ started and the flagship of SGM, becsuse of their disagreement over the way Josh harris and the other pastors are handling things. A couple days later a pastor from CLC reaches out to those who are hurting because as victims of sexual abuse, they were victimized.

7. Not everyone is excited about “The Help.”

8. OK hipsters, this is getting ridiculous.

9. Taking church discipline to a whole new level.

10. I’ve been listening to Ray Charles like crazy lately, so this to make you smile.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. (Standing up sheepishly and looking disheveled) “Hi, my name is Matt Redmond and I cannot remember the last time I had bacon.” (looks down ashamedly and sits down with head bowed.)

2. I’ve lost 3 4 friends on facebook in the last couple of days. I blame the Tea Party, El Nino and Tokyo Rose (Update: maybe also Joe McCarthy?).

3.  If we are after the respect of the world around us we will not take positions on justice the world does not respect.

4. I’ve got mad dishwasher filling skills.

5. I only eat buffalo wings if the buffaloes were treated kindly before being de-winged.

6. A few days after I finished Coulter’s newest book, the premise played out in England, Israel and Philadelphia.

7. My wife is hot. And you know what? She’s tired of it and ready for fall.

8. All these riots prove we are not ready for the rise of dinosaur robots with jet packs and rocket launchers.

9. I’ve got $5, I owe $50 so of course I’m gonna go buy a new car.

10. I mean I can understand why some people would want to re-elect our President, for one he’s not stupid like that stupid Sarah Palin, who stupidly wants us to have lower taxes, lower energy costs like an idiot while at the same time reducing our energy dependency on countries which hate us (which is brainless) and she stupidly wants to create jobs by creating wealth. Women are so dumb.

Tuesday’s 10: Books I Read Over and Over

I have a tendency to read books over and over. I’ve got books I’ve read almost every year since the first time I cracked them open. In some I find comfort. In others it’s like walking to the top of a hill and being able to look out over a wonderful landscape again and again. This is a list of those books. I will actually be cheating on this list as there are more than ten books here…

1. The Harry Potter Series. Every October as it starts to turn cool outside I start these books and finish by Christmas. I don’t just think these books are entertaining. I think they are genius.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia. Every January I read all six seven. And I learn something…see something new everytime. Children’s books? Sure. And these children stories are the furniture of my mind and have been since I was a boy.

3. Surprised By Joy. This autobiography of C.S. Lewis’ early life draws me in almost yearly now. I “get this” book in a way that sets it apart for me. And it is written so darn well.

4. Pride and Prejudice. Not only is it considered Austen’s best but many consider it the greatest novel in the English language. C.S. Lewis was a fan as well as my professor, Jerram Barrs, who introduced her books to me while in Seminary. I’ve read all her books at least 5 times and P&P I’ve read at least 10 times averaging more than a read a year over the past 9 years. It is my favorite novel.

5. The Count of Monte Cristo. I picked this up so I could read it before the movie came out in 2002. I fell in love with the story, which obviously the makers of the movie thought unworthy of their “skills.” The movie was terrible and not the story written by Dumas. This work is over 1000 pages of brilliance.

6. Witness. Whittaker Chambers’ autobiography is my favorite book. Period. The fact that you do not know this book is a national tragedy. If I were the head of education in this country, I would make it required reading. Everyone I have recommended this book to has been rendered speechless – not only by the story but by the writing, which is singular.

7. The Prodigal God. This book meant so much to my wife and I after reading it the first time, when my friend David suggested “Keller” as a middle name for our son, we actually liked it and used it. There are not many books I’ve given away as much as this one.

8. Mystery and Manners. Flannery O’Connor is known for her short stories and two novels but this book of essays and talks is a favorite of mine. I’ve read it at least 4 times in the past 12 years. Maybe more. Great writing and helpful thoughts on faith and writing.

9. Orthodoxy. Chesterton is always interesting but this witty piece of apologetics is abnormal in it’s ability to entertain while making one think so much the mind bends to breaking only to be re-formed.

10. L’bri. The story of what the Schaeffers…of what God did in the Swiss Alps through the Schaeffers is a story I long to read every couple of years. Apart from Schaeffer, I am not sure I would have my love of art, philosophy and how our faith helps us think about these things. Schaeffer could not have dreamed what would be when he decided to move his family to Switzerland. The story of how God used them brings me to tears every time.

What about you?

Why A Eugene Peterson Resources Page?

By the end of 2009 I was feeding off the writings of Eugene Peterson in an unprecedented way. The goal was not to advance in the Christian life. The goal was the salvation of my vocational soul and get as much sanity as I could. For years I had mined other pastors for their passion. But as 2009 was coming to a close, I looked out across the horizonless landscape of my own confusion and saw I needed to tap into wisdom. Soul-deep wisdom was the need. 

Even though I feared how my own theological tribe would view me, I started blogging about what I was learning, how I was feeling and my new ability to breath deeply. Ever since I have heard from others who have felt the same way about Peterson’s books for pastors as well as his other works. And almost every week since I’ve received at least one email, text message, etc. wanting me to recommend one of his books.

So, this page. A page to grow over time and expand as I read more and more. Hopefully it will become a little corner of sanity in an ecclesiastical world gone mad.

A brief word to young men… You could go ahead and read him now. Although you probably will not listen to him because you think you have it all together. Eventually you’ll grow to realize how much more you knew when you were young. Right now, you are where I once was, only wanting to read what was on the “Allowed Reading List.” May God give you the humility only experience could give me.

It is no secret that my series of blogposts on “The God of the Mundane”, which have turned into a book to be released later this year were inspired by all I was learning from Eugene Peterson. I makes no bones about it. His fingerprints are all over it. If anyone reads my work and thinks the words there sound like Peterson, I’ll be more than happy.

And not only as a pastor have I been helped. As a man, also, I’ve found solace. Since jumping into the deep end of Peterson’s works, I’ve been able to stop and think and take a much needed breath. I can stop, look up into the black canvas of night on which the stars sit so gladly and breath the night air contentedly. Every moment now rings with echoes of grace and mercy – the goodness of what God is doing around me…the reign of this resurrected King touching on all things.

So, the Eugene Peterson Resources Page.


I Really Should Apologize to My Old Professor, Jerram Barrs

(This is actually a repost from my old blog. Soon all these posts on Eugene Peterson will be all in one place.)

I took a class in Seminary class called “Pastoral Theology.” Actually I remember very little about it. A number of fellow students were into it. They loved the class. Me? Not so much. It was taught by Jerram Barrs and everyone sat in awe. I wanted REAL theology. This seemed sorta truncated and secondary. In that class he assigned a Eugene Peterson book.

I remember sitting outside of Edwards Hall on a bench facing in the direction of the bookstore and the upper parking lot. The library was on my left and I remember some traffic of students in front of me. It was after lunch and I was most likely waiting for a class to begin. This Peterson book was in my hands. I was reading it…kinda. Not really. My heart was not in it. The stories were compelling but I was not into it at all. It did not feel “Reformed” to me.

Stupid Feelings.

So here I am 8, 9 years later and I am wishing I had had a whole course simply mining that one book. Eugene Peterson is refreshing; a poet and a pastor…a pastor’s poet. A poet’s pastor. And Jerram Barrs is a genius for assigning the book. Although we should have been made to read the book. Eugene Peterson’s books for pastors are saving my vocational soul right now. I just wished they would have done so sooner.

Everything that young pastors are so geeked up about these days, Peterson was talking about 20 years ago.

Peterson was talking about God-centeredness before anyone.

Peterson was talking about ‘story’ before anyone.

Peterson was talking about the glory in the ordinariness of ministry before anyone.

Peterson was talking about the trend towards silliness in our spiritual lives before anyone.

Peterson was decrying the programmed nature of contemporary churches before anyone.

Peterson beat the drum of fighting against the commercialism of spirituality before anyone.

The whole time I am reading his books — my plan is to read through them all this year — I am laughing at how refreshingly original they were but no longer are. My wife is probably getting tired of me talking about them. I keep interrupting her own reading. You are probably wondering which book it is I should have read. He has at least 4 books for pastors. Actually it just doesn’t matter. You should read all of them. And I should apologize to Professor Barrs for not reading the book like I should have.