2005 in Review ...
Yes as many have written quite rightly that today and tonight is a time for looking back and hopefully seeing the grace and mercy and love of God in much of what has transpired. I've written previously that 2005 has quite possibly been my worst year to date. I'm quite bad at hiding reality and I'm sure that it is not hard to put 2 and 2 together and work out that much of the bad things have been in relation to SGM. Some have asked for details and I'm sure that there will come a time when I will write my testimony and tell - not to "slag off" or to bad mouth, but I trust to see how God has been working through what happened. At the moment, I am still somewhat at a loss to see why God allowed what happened with that church to happen, so I think it's best if I keep my silence - for now.
So rather than get hung up on the bad things of 2005, I am going to take a different approach and look at the highlights of "Life on Wings". The good blogs that I have written - and maybe some of the blogs I blush at and wish I had thought before I typed!
1. Beginnings. The 19th June saw me enter the blogging world for the first time and commend my good friend Mark's website as well as Justin Taylor's site.
2. My Bookmarks. Inspired by Phil Johnson's bookmarks , I attempted a few of my own putting down my favourites and my not-so-favourites. Perhaps unsurprisingly Newfrontiers topped my favourites and SGM topped my not-so's.
3. The Brighton Leaders Conference 2005! This was my review of the heavenly and most glorious Brighton Leaders Conference 2005! Quite a high point in my year, mainly because it saw my best friend Scott become a Christian and get awesomely baptised in the Holy Spirit at the same time. My other best friend Myth also came down for a day and was really touched by the prayer meeting (I know, what a meeting to bring non-Christians along to!). Scott has now joined the blogging world and his views will be well worth checking out - being far more "balanced" than I - don't miss it!
4. 50 Most Influential Churches in the UK. I researched and posted a list of the 50 most influential churches in the United Kingdom in my opinion. This was inspired by the list that Time magazine wrote up in the United States. Unsurprisingly again, Church of Christ the King in Brighton made Number 1. Every sermon on every Sunday seems like a Stoneleigh Bible Week address.
5. Ern Baxter Reports on the Dales Bible Week 1977. I began getting to what my blog is really about and posted my first transcript online of Dr Ern Baxter. It was his report to the brothers in the USA concerning his time in the United Kingdom in 1977 at the Dales Bible Week. Part 2 and Part 3 are also posted. It is exciting and rewarding to get the inside view from the man himself.
6. C J Mahaney Goes to MacArthur. One of my most controversial posts to date maybe. I reported that C J Mahaney had gone to John MacArthur's church in California to preach. While most seemed very excited by such a visit, I was not so. We were assured by Ligon Duncan that by no means was MacArthur going soft on his vehement anti-charismatic views. So I took the thread of logic one step further and questioned rhetorically whether that meant Mahaney was going soft on his charismatic views, seeing as I could not imagine John MacArthur giving his pulpit to any charismatic willingly.
7. Terry Virgo Is Spotted! I was VERY excited to see that Terry Virgo spoke at "Relay" - the UCCF conference this year and got a mention on the Godfather's website - how chuffed was I?!
8. The Problem With the Christian Church is Identified and Named. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones diagnosed what is wrong with the Christian church today - namely that people are muddled and confused over their teaching and belief on the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Interestingly enough in his keynote address at the Brighton Leaders Conference, Terry Virgo also similarly pleaded that we do not become "muddled" or apologetic in our clarity concerning our theology of the Holy Spirit.
9. Ern Baxter on the Charismatic Movement. Another transcript from Dr Ern Baxter - taken from the New Wine magazine that they used to run. This was his assessment of where the Charismatic Movement went wrong, and should be going. Biblical Manhood and Womanhood - What about the Men? Through a random comment made about a book I was reading against Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I got to meet the awesome Luke Wood and we had a number of great conversations. We are fellow Newfrontiers fans and are both so looking forward to Brighton next year and what God may do.
11. Aren't Sovereign Grace Worth Bothering About? This ranks as my most controversial post to date - attracting 18 comments and quite a debate! I innocently reminded readers of C J Mahaney's visit to John MacArthur's church and noticed a comment made by MacArthur's right hand man - the Pyromaniac. Have you forgotten? Well alright, I'll remind you. He said;
"That's not to say I approve of any kind of charismatic mysticism, but if no one ever went any further than, say, the typical guy from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I don't think I would spend much energy arguing against them".
I wondered where SGM are going especially in light of their reticence to tell any of their churches what to believe about receiving the Spirit. The commentators made some of their own assumptions, one gentleman in particuar got upset about C J Mahaney's claim to "apostleship". He said;
"I am not so amazed that gifted teachers are accepting C.J. as a charismatic as I am that they are accepting him as a self proclaimed "apostle." I was heavily involved with SG and I left very disapointed by C.J.'s false humility; always claiming to be proud so everyone can call him humble for doing so".
12. Jealous of Josh Harris? I noticed that one famous blogger was jealous of Josh Harris for having a mentor such as Mahaney and this sparked off quite a few thoughts about spiritual mentors. However later on, I was not so excited when the desire for mentors seemed to be leading to stagnation and I think I stand as the only guy in blogdom who doesn't particularly care if Mahaney starts up his own blog!
13. Richard Cunningham Likes Terry Virgo! I found an outstanding interview with Richard Cunningham, the head of UCCF on Adrian Warnock's blog and made a few comments on it. And then an early Christmas present - got another link from the King of Blogdom!
15. I Hate Christmas! But SGM kinda helped. Yes, another landmark - I was actually inspired BY SGM! Well more in particular the outstanding lady Carolyn McCulley. Her post forced me to be honest about being single over Christmas and inspired me to look to the grace and mercy of God and give thanks for the abundance that I have. And actually I did have the best Christmas ever!
16. Friends Onboard. - my old friends Dave and Jonathan Skipper joined the blogging world!
And finally ...
This post deserved a special mention because of the fascinating debates and thoughts it sparked - and I think it is my longest blog of date! I was stimulated by Mark Heath's postings about the need to be "open but cautious" or more particularly "Cautious but open" and got very het-up about it. Inspired by my hero Terry Virgo - I wrote; "This is NO age to advocate restraint!". This blog entry got 11 comments so obviously hit home with some! Mark to his credit came back and gave as good as he got and clarified his position really well.
A Special Mention for Celebrity Commentator ...
And I couldn't close 2005 without mentioning this post - I had heard rumours from SGM that they were getting twitchy with intimate songs of love for God such as "Draw Me Close to You" - that was sung to powerfully on the Stoneleigh Bible Week 1998 video. The phrase; "God isn't your boyfriend" was voiced too. I went on a search and found Bob Kauflin's new blog. Initially I thought I was wrong and read some very positive comments about intimacy in worship by Kauflin - but then found the offending post in question. Bob Kauflin had the grace to comment on what I had written and was truly gracious about the whole issue.
So much for 2005 - onto 2006!
That's my looking back done with for now. As Dave Holden reminded us at Stoneleigh 2000 - it isn't good to look back to the past in the wrong way. I don't have much desire to look back to 2005 actually! There are a number of people I want to forget. But God has been moving and speaking. There are prophetic promises about what may be in 2006 - and I can't wait!!
So ... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!