Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Hopes Dashed by Perceived "Imperfections"

Have you ever anticipated something and had that "something" turn out totally different than you had hoped?  Have you ever looked up to someone only to find out that that "someone" failed to meet your expectations?  Well, that's what has happened to me today in a small and potentially insignificant way; however, I want to take the opportunity to use my situation to help point all three of my readers (including myself) to the right perspective.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a mailing from some Christianesque company that had an advertisement for C.J. Mahaney's book called Worldliness.  The advertisement said that the book was free to a certain number of pastors.  Almost immediately I went on-line to take advantage of this awesome opportunity since C.J. is a "favorite" of mine.  I received the book and put it on the shelf anticipating to read it in the near future.

Well, today I go on-line and read a blogger's analysis of the book.  What was this evaluators final analysis? "...it just isn't that good of a book."  My basic desired response is one that wants to defend C.J.  But, I have to get off of that horse quickly and admit that C.J. isn't perfect.  And, maybe this book really isn't the best book.  If I remained on the defensive "for C.J.'s sake", I would quickly be in danger because I'd be putting a human on a pedestal that they were never intended to be on.  And, I might soon try to eclipse God with a mere man made of dust.

Well, the story doesn't stop here.

I found out that Sovereign Grace Ministries was giving away a new CD compiled all of hymns.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited.  I like much of what SGM puts out in music form - especially their recent albums.  So, I downloaded the CD and began listening....  Again, I was disappointed.  Maybe it's because I'm used to the old style of the hymns or maybe I was expecting something more bold.  I don't know what the reason is, but I wasn't impressed.  As a result, I became more tempted to "judge" SGM. 

Isn't that the likely response from someone who has sinfully elevated something?  I have come to EXPECT great things from SGM and I didn't get what I wanted.  The reality is that when we elevate things in this way, we will only be disappointed.  There is a mixture of selfishness, pride, fear of man (and I'm sure a host of other sins) involved in this scenario.  And, the only answer to this problem is to always keep God at the forefront and enjoy him above all things - to keep repenting and trusting in Christ as the only great and glorious Savior.  Then and only then can we truly appreciate the gifts he's given to us through humans, music, books, etc.

Now, just because I'M not impressed, doesn't mean others won't love the CD.  And, just because the blogger didn't like the book on worldliness doesn't mean others won't benefit.  All I'm trying to focus on is how we as humans can quickly elevate someone, and we need to be careful that we understand that no person and no ministry is given completely over to perfection.  This can give us hope - knowing that we're all in process.  And, this knowledge can rebuke us - calling us to always point our attention towards Christ and not to mere humans (no matter how godly those individuals and ministries are).


Tracy said...

A very good reminder. Thanks!

Steve said...

Have you seen the following blogs about SGM and C.J. Mahaney:



They tell another side about SGM.

Pastor Timothy said...


I'm sure they do tell another side of SGM, but I'm not into "rock-throwing" especially when I'm not there and don't know all the specifics of a situation. I've learned as a pastor too many times that I never know the full situation unless both sides are able to speak.

Also, I know that when I "react" against something that might even be wrong - I tend to go too far in my assessment.

Too often I quickly run to blaming a ministry or a person (above and beyond my "idolatry.")

I'm not saying there are not imperfections (or even big ones) in SGM as a whole, but spending my time discussing issues I may have without ever talking to the sources would be UNbeneficial.

I'm a pastor of a church, and I've had rocks thrown at me, and all too often I wish that people would have talked to me and listened to what I had to say instead of talking with other dissatisfied people.

Also, please know this - just because one person does something one way, doesn't mean that everyone in a ministry is like it. Also, just because one person says that someone says something, doesn't mean that's totally true either. Again, the power of reaction is strong and causes us to not think as clearly as we would hope.

Again, for clarification, my point in this blog is not to put down C.J. or SGM. My point is to recognize my own tendency towards idolatry and deal with that.

I still very much appreciate the works of C.J. (like The Cross Centered Life and Humility) and as long as I focus on the true MESSAGE of the books more than the man, that's what matters.

I hope that makes sense.

Steve said...

Pastor Timothy

I am sure there is a variation in how various SGM Churches. In the stories that are posted there does seem to be come common them though of what is going on. Thus I am sure some SGM churches are different or don't go to such extremes on certain things but will still have similarities.

Many of the people who have posted on these blogs have tried to confront the leadership but to no avail.

Steve said...


I would add that on these blogs, especially the SGM Survivor blog, there are a number of recurring themes on what members seem to experience even when these different members attended different SGM churches.