WOW… Just… Wow… Read it

Posted in Randomness on May 30, 2012 by jaymallow

I have to say this is the most encouraging, honest, faith-filled thing I’ve ever read. Thank you for so amazingly expressing faith in a fallen world… I am truly humbled…

Jay, I really appreciate your honest expression of thoughts! You are really open and honest with how you are feeling! I am a friend of your parents and we have met at Ivy Creek Church once so you may not remember me. Susan and I served for 30 years in Japan with MTW and I and all three of our kids graduated from Covenant. What you write about the inner feelings and longings of your heart remind me of all of us. In different ways we are experiencing the reality of our situation in life here on earth. What we long for may be different, but the fact that we long for such things that will bring significance, worth, personal fulfillment, security, point us to the uniqueness of what it means to be humans living under conditions that are imperfect. Our aspirations, longings and dreams make us aware that there should be something more, something better, something that fulfills me on a much deeper level than it does today! And the answer to conflicted feelings of sadness and emptiness is not, “Just wait for heaven where everything will be perfect and right and fair and totally satisfying.” While that is the believer’s bottom line hope that may enable him to bear all things, that hope alone may discourage engagement in the world at hand that we live in today. The calling that God has called us to is connected to the hope we gain from seeing the resurrected Jesus because it confirms to our hearts that physical life both today and in the new earth is important and something to be greatly anticipated. God does not look at our world today as tainted, evil and something to be removed from, but rather as something to engage in even though it is a dim reflection of what it will be when perfected. So whether in the military or work field or full time ministry the calling is the same–that is to enjoy this world for what it is now in light of the hopes of the perfect world and to engage in it where God puts us (for each phase of life he places us in) and by playing our part whether small or big, we are in the flow of history towards the grand end, the rebuilding of a new earth and new heaven. In this process we may find ourselves in places that are sad, lonely, hard, undesirable, but two things He will never remove you from; one, His promised presence and caring heart, two, the hope of a future that will fill the deepest longings of the heart I spoke of earlier.
In this process which God designs tailor-made plans for every person, it is important to remember nothing is a mistake and there is something to be gained from every situation we find ourselves in. As such, what you experience these next months overseas will change you perhaps more profoundly than if you stayed in more secure, familiar and normal environment, but if you see yourself in His hands and long to fill his plan for you, then your sense of waste, loss, life out of control can be replaced in a more quiet hope for today, tomorrow and beyond. And as sure as Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that the physical world is important and that He is in control so you can be sure of His presence and purposes for you are His kingdom fulfillment and therefore for your good!

Advertisements

Back to Blogging

Posted in Randomness on May 28, 2012 by jaymallow

Yeah it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. However, this is me trying to both get back into the habit and letting those who care about me know what’s going on/going through my head.
AFGHANISTAN: So there it is, the big reason and the thing that looms large on my rapidly approaching horizon. I’m going to war and I’m trying to bring my head around all that entails and where I am at presently.
WHERE I’VE BEEN: I think it important to acknowledge what has transpired over the last two years that has lead me to this place both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wish I could say that joining the Army was a good decision. I wish I could say that the two words that I feel define my Army experience up until this point weren’t “disappointment” and “frustration”, but those two words aptly describe the totality of my experience with the Army. (Although additional words such as “loneliness”, “boredom”, and “isolation” come to mind as well.) Not only have I had a job that was unchallenging, (I read over 100 books from the library while in class learning my job and STILL graduated top of my class) but I’ve been apart of a section of the Army that really doesn’t have a mission on the present battlefield. We have air superiority wherever we are and missile defense is an afterthought deterrent in most cases. Even worse have been the commands that I’ve been assigned to. I’ve been in SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) assigned to a HIMAD (Long Range Air Defense i.e. Patriot) Battalion. Meaning for all of 2011 I was apart of a Battalion that was preparing for a Kuwait HIMAD mission. Which means that being apart of a SHORAD Battery we got tasked with the jobs no one wanted. I’ve been apart of a field mess hall competition detail. I’ve done funeral details. (Which honestly I’ve been honored to participate in, but it wasn’t my “job”.) In all honesty I hadn’t done the job that the Army employed me to do until this year (more than a year since being assigned to FT. Hood) with a deployment to Arizona and now Afghanistan. All the while within these commands I’ve experienced what I have to say is the WORST leadership and management I have ever experienced in my now 34 years and numerous jobs. Narcissistic almost psychopathic leadership intent on control and personal advancement. Ineptitude that almost defies logic. Mass punishment where I’ve been punished even though I didn’t do anything wrong. Superior performance (i.e. PT tests) that went unrecognized. The fact that I was promoted only a month before that promotion would have been automatic, yet had been eligible for promotion for six months previous with an exceptional record. And then there was Arizona…
ARIZONA: How to describe a two month dog and pony show… Living in a gymnasium with 70 other people being forced to be in “uniform” 24/7. Eating (horrible contracted) food that had been left out for four hours every night. The constant frustration of a command that put priority and accolades on the Avenger mission rather than your 24/7 radar mission. Spending almost three months with no time off only to return and immediately begin preparing/training for a nine month deployment to Afghanistan.
WHERE I AM NOW: Honestly I’m done with the Army. Re-enlistment is a personal impossibility for me. I’m ready to be done with this part of my life and move on. Honestly I miss being a civilian. I think back to my apartment in California and my life there and I honestly wish I had never left. This is a burden that I bear every time I wake up at 5am to clean my room for daily inspection and then go to inspect the soldiers I am responsible for. This is what I feel while doing PT every morning. And now I’m going to Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN: I have to say I’m a mixed bag of emotions when looking forward to deployment. On one hand I have to admit that even though I am proud of my prior service as a Marine in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and will always consider myself a “Marine” first, the fact that my previous enlistment fell between Iraq 1 and post 9/11 Iraq 2 have cast a pall on my personal view of my service record. We are at war and I now have the opportunity to actually serve my country in wartime in a wartime environment. I now have the opportunity of running a tab with my brother, father, grandfathers, and uncles at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). But that does not diminish my trepidation. First there is the “life changing” aspect that I am aware of. I have lived long enough that I know that there are things that change you. One of the things that I’m slowly trying to grasp is that I have already changed. I am no longer the hope filled, faith infused person who left California. For whatever providential reasons God has lead me through a wilderness of disappointment, doubt, loneliness, and frustration. It would be a lie to pretend otherwise. To have experienced the joy and personal satisfaction of attending college at Covenant, only to leave and experience the frustration, alienation, and dissatisfaction with the Army alone would be affecting. To add the experiences that I’ve had over the past two years and already I’m not the same. A part of me is truly fearful that going to Afghanistan will alter me even further. Will I even be “me” a year from now? Or will PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), an injury, or simply the alien experience of Afghanistan change me into something unrecognizable? Moreover there is the pressure of responsibility. I am now in charge of a site in a position that is above my present pay grade. I have to rely on those beneath me to do their job and am responsible for not only their job performance but their health in a stressful environment. This is on top of my own struggles and inadequacies.
If I had to say one thing right now it is that I don’t want to lose more than I’ve already lost over the past three years. I feel inadequate to the task set before me and feel, based on previous experience, set up for failure. Moreover I’m simply tired already, lacking energy to finish well. I WANT to serve with Honor and distinction. I WANT to willingly sacrifice, do well, and come home proud. I WANT to be FAITHFUL. I just fear that who I am will either be lost, or in the end will have little meaning afterward. If the Army has done one thing it’s cause me to lose my dreams. I don’t know who or what I want to be after this, and my greatest fear is that a year from now not only will I still not know how to dream, but that I’ll be paralyzed from dreaming.

Disappointments with C.J.’s Pastor’s conference speech

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2011 by jaymallow

Yesterday I read with anticipation the transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s speech to the Pastor’s conference. (You can read it here) Sadly my anticipation turned into disappointment and even grief as I read what I can only categorize as an “explanation”. Let me first off state that I hold no ill will towards C.J. I’ve sat under His teaching met, and even let Him borrow my car one Celebration years ago. In fact it is the respect I formerly have had for C.J. that causes my current grief. Over all regarding the entire speech I was saddened that yet again C.J. has not specifically admitted or confessed any particular sin related to his stepping down as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries. At best there have been general “areas of sin” that He has acknowledged, but even here I’m struggling to discern if C.J. is confessing to ANYTHING much less a particular sin. (I appreciate that the mostly non-existent adjudication process is ongoing but SOME specificity wouldn’t hurt) I’m not going to “cut and paste” or go over the speech point by point just point out the areas that I found disconcerting.
1. C.J. has a personality: At least in this speech C.J. admitted that he has been “changeable”, “visionary”, and “failed to communicate effectively”. It’s nice that C.J. acknowledges that he’s an ENFP. I myself am an ISTJ, yet I also know that just because I have personality tendencies ,that doesn’t mean that my sin isn’t present in those proclivities. In fact it is in those areas that my sin is most likely to go unnoticed because of what comes natural. My question to C.J. at this point was, “Is there an instance where you’ve been ‘changeable’ that you now see that you were wrong? How exactly have you failed to communicate clearly, and have you clarified yourself? Have you asked for forgiveness for any of these times?” I can appreciate that C.J. now sees that his giftings are more pastoral in nature, but that doesn’t mean that poor decisions have not been made and that those decisions have had far reaching consequences. Poor leadership is not excused because of “personality quirks”, especially if those same “quirks” caused a lack of accountability and oversight.
2. The most disturbing thing about C.J.’s message to me was C.J.’s acknowledgement of a “misunderstanding and misapplication” of the theology of original sin. Setting aside the “misunderstanding” bit, the fact that C.J. admits that he was aware of this tendency for SIX YEARS is incredible and proof that C.J. should never be allowed in a position of leadership again. It astounds me that C.J. and by extension the SGM board can blithely admit this aspect of Sovereign Grace culture. Do C.J. and the board have any idea of how many people have been hurt through this “misunderstanding”? Are they unaware of the tears that have been shed after counseling sessions with Pastors and after caregroup meetings? That ONE innocent has been made to feel responsible and even culpable in the sin that has been committed against them, or that God has been misrepresented as not being righteously angered by injustice should cause both C.J. and the board to weep and beg for forgiveness and mercy. That again for SIX YEARS this propensity and even culture (C.J. admitted to caregroups and “fellowship” where the Christian life pretty much was the revelation and confession of sin) was known, and the response was ONE message at the Pastor’s Conference? (That didn’t even specifically address the issue. I know I have Powlison’s message on my iPhone) Where is there any amount of remorse for those who have had to live like that? Any remorse for not preaching the resurrected grace filled Christian life? This is at the least gross incompetence and at worse gross negligence.
3. The “polity” issue is an example of SGM’s arrogance not humility. C.J. admitted that there have been issues for “at least two years”, but that it’s OK that these issues have not yet been resolved since SGM is “such a young movement”. First off SGM has been a “movement” for at least thirty years, that’s not so “young”. Second for TWO YEARS there has been no one the board could bring in to assist in these polity issues? SGM knows no one in the Southern Baptist Convention? The PCA? The RPC? Or could it be that none of those denominations hold the views on “pastoral gifting” that SGM does? Instead of being teachable and humble in asking for help both C.J. and the board have allowed this issue to get to the point it has.(and they are still digging their heels in)
4. I’ve not written about this up to this point but I simply can’t stand it anymore. SLANDER IS SPOKEN FALSEHOOD UTTERED WITH THE INTENT TO HARM, LIBEL IS WRITTEN! If the Blogs and “Brent Documents” are anything they are libelous NOT SLANDER!!!!! Please for the love of God (literally) STOP redefining words to vague definitions that don’t exist in normal English. Moreover realize what you are really suggesting when you categorize someone as a “slanderer”. In normal English you are intimating that what they are saying is false, that they are aware it is false, and that they are intentionally trying to harm someone. Essentially you are saying that that person is a vengeful liar. Is Brent really a vengeful liar when the majority of “The Documents” are emails that no one yet has claimed were not written by them? Is C.J. or the board ever going to address the issues raised by those emails? I can understand dismissing Brent’s “commentary”, but the emails themselves reveal patterns of preferential treatment for C.J., C.J.’s tendency to make unilateral decisions, and a resistance by C.J. to be held accountable. On one hand these may be “common” sins as C.J. and the board have put it (though the fact that we are talking about an individual who wrote a book titled “Humility” and mostly put himself forth as an example of the title makes it a little less “common”), but these are still sins and THEY HAVE AFFECTED MORE THAN BRENT AND C.J. Are the “bloggers” and those who post their personal experiences “vengeful liars”? And now we have a new word “Divisiveness”. What exactly does that word mean? Who qualifies as a “Divisive” person? And what “courage” should a pastor have in “dealing with them”? And finally how the heck is this statement true? ” We are capitulating to slander in the name of humility” In what ways has the board “capitulated” to anything at this point?

I really hope and pray that the Art of Reconciliation report will shock both C.J. and the SGM board into repentance. I pray for these men that I have known and have in the past respected that they will be broken and humbled before God. However if this is an indication of where things are going I fear that I will not be able to endorse SGM and it pains me to say that. To the friends I know who are pastors and leaders in SGM churches all I have to say at this point is that I’m pretty sure the SBC, PCA, RPC, or heck Acts 13 would welcome you with open arms.

A different vision for what the church is

Posted in Devotions on August 7, 2011 by jaymallow

” I wonder if our vision of the church is simply to sterile. Perhaps the church is more like an Army field hospital than a club or clinic. A place where the wounded and dying come grossly disfigured. Where blood, screams, and tears are not uncommon, but where mercy, compassion and understanding are also commonplace. A place where in the backdrop of the worst of the world; rest, solace, and respite are given. How different would it be if we saw the sanctuary as a triage center rather than a waiting room?”

LifeProof case review

Posted in Technology on July 21, 2011 by jaymallow

Perhaps it’s because I bought my new iPhone due to the fact that I dropped my old iPhone 3g and cracked the screen. Perhaps also the fact that the iPhone 4, while looking definitely sleek and sexy, seems so fragile. (Seriously you almost think those beautiful glass screens would crack just by looking at them) But I’m practically paranoid when it comes to protecting my iPhone. (The $350 price tag probably has something to do with that as well) So from minute one my iPhone has been encased in OtterBox’s Defender case, except for brief moments when switching to my armband case for running. While I appreciated a little piece of mind, and the Defender case definitely worked on multiple droppings, I still wasn’t all that happy with the set up. For one the OtterBox feels like you militarized your iPhone. Being in the military that’s not so much a bad thing, but it makes the thinnest iPhone to date an ugly black brick.
Thanks to my incessant love of all things geeky and case related, I stumbled upon a case made by a company called LifeProof. The claims they make about their cases are almost unbelievable- Mil-Spec (something OtterBox doesn’t even claim), dust and dirt PROOF, and ultimately WATERPROOF. Yes you read right, this company claims that you can drop their case repeatedly on concrete from a height of six feet, bury it in sand, then go shoot underwater movies with your iPhone.(Basically they’re claiming to be the GLOCK of iPhone cases) Sounds either too good to be true, or complete BS right? So I trolled around looking for videos related to this case. Some COULD have been faked, (not saying they were) but careful editing and an underwater camera could have pulled off some videos. The one that sold me however was a YouTube video of a guy dropping his LifeProof encased iPhone into a 24oz mug of beer. It was shot with the iPhone. Looking out of the amber colored glass sold me. Enough for me to spend another $70 bucks for another case anyway.
Just a quick note on the ordering process as I experienced it. It is very obvious that this is a new company getting it’s legs underneath it. I placed a pre-order, then two weeks later was contacted that I could now order my case. I then put in the order and they took over a month to process that order. Perhaps that’s just the way things are done online now but I have to admit that having an outstanding charge on my credit card for over a month was a bit disconcerting. In any case it took some time from “pre-order” to delivery. Though I will say that when they did finally fulfill the order it was delivered quickly. (Two business days by Priority Mail for free)

The Unboxing:

20110721-080049.jpg

20110721-080130.jpg

I have to say the packaging is impressive. It kind of screams, “PLEEAAASSSEE Apple put us in your store?” Believe it or not that’s a good thing. Any company that has the confidence in it’s product to do some real, professional graphic design knows it has a product to sell. The packaging also speaks to the permanence and financial backing of the company. This doesn’t look like a company that won’t be here a month from now because they folded.

First impressions:
The case itself is thin and lightweight. It seems to belie the “shockproof” capability it purports. The plastic is neither smooth, hard, nor shiny, nor soft and rubbery but an interesting blend. (smooth and pliable but grip-able) The clear plastic screen protector feels a little on the thick side but definitely isn’t flimsy. The thing you notice when pulling the two front and back pieces apart is that it isn’t easy. This is a case that you are supposed to leave on.

20110721-080254.jpg

Inside you’ll note on the left the prominent seal going around the case. On the right note the films covering the speakers and camera ports. (The mesh is supposed to be Gore-Tex) I read a LifeProof Q and A about the lack of some kind of felt or soft material for the backing. Supposedly they rejected this idea as it muffles sound and really doesn’t supply any protection. The response indicated that a securely sealed backing won’t scratch the surface and that their material won’t harm the back surface of the iPhone anyway. (We’ll see but it makes sense. If the back of the case doesn’t move in relation to the front then there shouldn’t be scratches)

I can attest that after installation the bottom opening for the charge/synch cable works with Apple’s cables. Beyond that you might want to buy an extender. (which LifeProof also sells) Another note is that the hinge is a metallic one similar to a watch spring/hinge adding to the durability of the mechanism. (ie it’s not just plastic) I can also attest that the volume and mute buttons on the side work perfectly. (And I own a Verizon iPhone) The latter (mute) being a surprise and actually a bonus for quick muting.

The big surprise was the inclusion of this:

20110721-080535.jpg

What you see there my friends is an audio adaptor for the case that is also “LifeProof”. Supposedly this renders the headphone port also impervious to the elements. (Though LifeProof doesn’t recommend swimming with it, they’ve got another adaptor for that.) I was surprised because no mention was made of this little device in my ordering. Such as, “Case includes…” On one hand I’m impressed that something that this company sells on it’s website is included in the case.(It would be easier and sneakier to make people buy it.) On the other hand I have to admit that if I had unknowingly bought this accessory for twenty bucks and then learned that it was included I would have been a bit miffed. Oh and another positive, you see that drum looking thing in the middle of the wire? That’s a device to hold the plug for the audio port along with a spare plug. Which given the fact that the plug is tiny, and conceivably easily lost, is well… thoughtful. All that said, after checking the adapter is almost absolutely necessary with this case. Perhaps with the factory Apple headphones (which I don’t use) the audio opening will still work. Otherwise you absolutely HAVE to use the adaptor. The opening for the audio is just too deep and narrow. Yet still on the plus side for LifeProof the adaptor is gold plated and seems to be quality made.

Comparison:

Here are a few shots of the case side by side with the OtterBox just for comparison. You’ll note that the LifeProof case is longer but noticeably thinner.

20110721-080641.jpg

20110721-080658.jpg

Conclusion:

Perhaps this is the most resounding endorsement I could give this case- I dropped it (and my iPhone) in the toilet. No seriously. I just walked in, took a deep breath, and let go. …And nothing happened. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened. I fished it out, dried it off, and… nothing happened. Now will I go scuba diving with this case? NO. But the fact that my phone survived what any phone would be absolutely fried doing is worth the money this case costs. While I would love some sort of belt clip as I’m not a “pocket” wearer of the iPhone I’ll make do. (There are many “generic” belt case options) Even more I look forward to LifeProof’s swim/armband. (As a member of the military I look forward to being able to strap my iPhone on my forearm and make like Sam Fisher) Time will tell if this case over time will continue to live up to the lofty claims LifeProof has made but for now I’m not taking it off.

Thoughts about the issues confronting Sovereign Grace ministries with C.J. Maheney’s stepping down

Posted in Devotions on July 11, 2011 by jaymallow

When I read C.J. and Dave Harvey’s letters both announcing/affirming C.J.’s stepping down from leadership and announcing an independent review of both C.J. and Soveriegn Grace’s leadership I was somewhat surprised but not totally surprised. I wasn’t surprised at C.J.’s humility and desire to redress whatever wrongs may have occurred, but I also wasn’t surprised that it has come to this. Perhaps it is because I grew up in a different denomination. Perhaps also because I’ve been on the inside of other Christian organizations that have had similar issues the day where things “got serious” seemed coming to me. I more than anyone don’t want to engage in “gossip”, however I believe that helpful and meaningful dialogue can occur as we think about how it came to this.

First off I want to take you back ten years or so ago. In my mind and I’m pretty sure for many this felt like a “golden time” in Sovereign Grace Ministries. The “movement” was still new, the churches small, and I know for myself it felt as if something unique and different was occurring. I remember one special thing in particular, we called them Celebrations. Each year regional churches would gather for fellowship and instruction.(and late night shenanigans but let’s not go there) Here’s the thing that Celebrations highlight about the leadership of SGM during that time- it worked. Both C.J.’s leadership and the model of church governance that SGM adopted worked well with few smaller churches that could be personally cared for by “apostles” and even C.J. himself. The inclusion of Celebrations also provided a sense of care and community within the larger Ministry. However over time the ministry grew to the point that continuing Celebrations was quite frankly impractical.
What developed throughout the “Celebration” era was a method of governance that at it’s core was relational. On the surface this actually seems both workable and preferable, that leaders with strong relational ties would be able to speak into each others lives and keep each other accountable. That a “relational” “apostle” could govern and disciple pastors under his care and himself be cared for through both the pastors under him and “apostles” beside him. Yet as the organization and churches therein grew the “relational” ideal actually developed into a hierarchical almost “catholic” system of church governance.
It is in fact ironic that an organization that describes itself as being “essentially reformed” would adopt a view of pastoral authority and church polity that mirrors the church that the reformers ultimately rebelled against and rejected. (Also telling that absolutely NO other American church that labels itself as being both “evangelical” and “reformed” subscribes to Sovereign Graces views on church polity) One only has to look at history to see the many opportunities for abuse and inefficiency in dealing with disciplinary oversight endemic in the “apostleship” model. These examples are evident and require only a quick perusing of past church abuses. However, there is another perhaps initially unseen side effect of a “relational” authority structure, namely that all issues of discipleship, discipline, theology, and even church and personnel management become “personal”. All issues are moved into one on one relationships and become needlessly “confidential”. Lets say “apostle” A is called in to counsel and mediate an issue between “Pastor” B and “Member” C. Because “A” and “B” are “personally” communicating they can feel the freedom to speak about and even make decisions about “Member” C without feeling the need to involve that individual because “A” and “B” are “relating” primarily with each other (this conversation is of course “private” and “confidential”). Then having made decisions they (“A” and “B”) then turn to “relate” to “C” providing “personal” care. This can (and does) cause an environment where practically everything becomes “confidential” (because it’s “personal”) and raises the probability of offense by making every issue a personal one and every interaction personal as well. This is glaringly evidenced by the fact that SGM has absolutely NO mechanism for impartial and impersonal internal review and is forced to look outside the ministry for these things. It simply isn’t in the organizations “DNA”.
This “relational” model also makes accountability and discipline difficult because there is no way to evaluate a leaders leadership outside of their personal character. It is a common Christian organizational fault to promote and equate those with excellent character as if they are also are gifted and able to lead. Let me be clear, those who are called to lead SHOULD have excellent character, but just because someone is a “good guy” doesn’t mean he can lead. Even more, a person who can lead in smaller areas (such as a family or small group) does not AUTOMATICALLY posses the ability to lead in larger ones. The “relational” ideal falters in evaluation and oversight as those who are raised to leadership often are “promoted” because of a sympathy of personality or character with a particular leader rather than evidenced leadership skills or potential.(This isn’t a problem with just the church. EVERY leader in ANY circumstance prefers to “clone” himself) This is compounded when that “gifting” is then affirmed by a greater centralized authority. (ie. the Pastors College) Now both the ones who initially promoted the candidate AND those who supposedly have “tested” that candidate’s “gifting” now have a vested PERSONAL interest in that candidate’s success. To disqualify a prospective pastor is to acknowledge that BOTH local pastor and pastoral teams AND the pastor’s college where in error in evaluating this individual’s gifting. Both the local and Ministerial levels have a vested interest in the success of the candidate. This can lead to evaluations that gloss over leadership decisions and instead focus on the “intent” or “heart” of the candidate. Thus to challenge the leadership of a pastoral candidate is to not only challenge HIS personal character, but the “intent” and “heart” of the pastor, pastoral team, and organization that affirmed him to office. Moreover because the new pastor owes his livelihood to both an individual (most often a local senior pastor) AND the “system” there can be a reluctance to challenge either within a new tenable position.
I could go on but my hope is that those with discernment and wisdom will “read between the lines” and see what I’m getting at. At the core of the present SGM “crises” is a failure of doctrine. SGM in my opinion simply has a flawed ideal of scriptural authority. (To read my perspective and scriptural backing read Reformers Duty pt.1 and 2) However I personally want to end this on a note of hope and challenge to my friends:
1: This is an evidence of God’s grace and mercy to both the leaders and Sovereign Grace ministries as a whole.
Rom 1 clearly teaches that a clear sign of being under the wrath of God is that He leaves you alone. I personally have been involved in a ministry that at one time could fill colosseums. Now that ministry struggles to find a church to promote it’s “conferences”. God is more than willing to let false movements “die on the vine” only to later be pruned and thrown into the fire. The one’s He cares for He prunes.
2: The “pruning” seems to only have begun: To my fellow brothers and sisters in SGM I can only say this- I believe it will get worse. Sin will be revealed and I would challenge each and every one of you to hold those who are in leadership accountable to fully expose and confess sin. For some of you it will be too much. However, you must look and grieve and forgive.(“blanket” forgiveness is vague and does not lead to reconciliation) For others it won’t be enough.You’re temptation will be to want to know every detail and be dissatisfied with any outcome. For you faith in the sovereign providence of God and His hand in both the past, present and future needs to guide you.
3. Rejoice that over the last ten years the Gospel has gone forth and is in evidenced in “clay pots” Ministry wide: Everyone is fallible. Everyone is a quick drop away from being broken. “Hero’s” are just as flawed and sinful and cracked and fragile as anyone else. What is amazing, what is glorious, is that God even uses these vessels to cause His Holy Spirit to ignite a flame in others. Mourn the fragility, praise the majesty.
4: Pray for a “teachable” spirit movement wide: I would add in pray for discernment for whatever ministry is called in to speak into this current situation. (I’m personally nominating the PCA, but the RPC or even the Southern Baptist Convention would offer great perspective, governance and instruction in this current situation) But whatever the case I believe change and reorientation is coming within SGM. Some will naturally resist believing that nothing has been wrong and nothing should be changed. Still others will look back to that “golden time” and want to somehow turn the clock back. Others will demand too much too soon and not see a process of both instruction, repentance and reconciliation. But I believe ALL will be challenged to grow in unique ways. More so as implications and theologies begin to shift and be sharpened by those who are hopefully wise and experienced outside brothers in the greater body of Christ. Humility is needed both with leaders and laity as SGM moves into a new era.
I for one look forward to seeing what God has in store for so many I hold dear and one day look forward to rejoining.

iCloud- don’t ditch your computer just yet…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2011 by jaymallow

I remember when… I remember my first iPod, sitting down at iTunes and spending hours uploading my CD’s just so I could use this amazing device. I remember when iTunes wasn’t so good at managing multiple devices across multiple computers. I remember the one time I accidentally clicked the “Do you want to add this device” kiss of death and screamed “NOOOOOO!!!” as instantly all content was erased from both my iPod and computer. I remember spending a Saturday morning re-loading my CD’s back into iTunes while mourning the loss of over a hundred dollars in downloaded content. (Cause seriously who ACTUALLY backs up their iTunes?)
Well now those memories are as quaint as the iPod classic I used to own, enter iCloud!
But before I get to that lets just briefly hit Lion OS and iOS5.
You can sum up most of what Lion now has to offer with the statement “Your desktop apps now work the exact same way as your iPhone apps.” That’s a surprisingly good thing, instant saving and the ability to exit a program without saving and then jump right back in? In one sense you want to ask why has it taken this long to incorporate these features. The file sharing app was cool as well. But the dark horse of the new OS is the integration of gestures into a desktop environment. I’m calling it now, probably within the year we will see a touchscreen iMac and the mouse will die a quiet death within the Apple universe. Also I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on Pages. Apple seems to be pulling out the stops in courting business professionals and college students. Seriously anyone who has ever had to write a paper salivates at the thought of “versions” (previous saves of the current document that can be viewed side by side). Kind of funny that the latest Pages is basically the word processor that they built for the iPad just turned up to eleven. More on the business and college aspects of WWDC’s keynote later.
Then we come to iOS. Notifications and mail stuff looked alot like Android and the photo tweaks were interesting. Most noteworthy was “Reminders” but I fear it won’t be for the content of the program but for the handwritten notes presented in the background. The ability to remind oneself at a specific time and location is great but I fear that some will lament the “false advertising”. Common Apple! Most people just LIKE jotting down personal notes and using apps that don’t work with iCal is disappointing. Especially since you now have a TEN INCH SCREEN to work with. YOU don’t even have to recognize my handwriting so long as I can… There was the integration of Tweeting, which if you’re into that I guess it meant something to you. But the real big changes to iOS were the “cutting the cord” changes. Now you no longer have to synch with a computer running iTunes to activate an iDevice. Which leads us to…
STEVE JOBS!!!! (OMG he’s like a skinny, turtleneck and jeans wearing JESUS!) (OK seriously future post on how church conferences need to look to WWDC and start distancing.) The iCloud is here folks and yes even Jobs admitted Mobile Me sucked! Great thing number one: in app synch across devices. The ability to say read up to a point in iBooks on an iPad and then later open iBooks on an iPhone and pick up right where you left off; or make some changes in Pages, Keynote, or Numbers on the fly with the iPhone then have those changes instantly appear on your desktop or iPad (or better yet ALL of your bosses devices) is brilliant and certainly worth the cost of… NOTHING? Oh yeah thats great thing number two: Zip, Zero. Nada. Totally free… (Sure Apple will have claim on our souls and even deeper access to private information but they’ve handled that well so far right?) You have to admit that having the ability to back up all of your devices, set up “push” updates and synchs, AND having 5g of data for free seems almost too good to be true. But wait there’s more… For one easy payment of twenty five dollars all your illegal media becomes magically legal! Purchase iTunes Match and the “cloud” will search through your library and match it to an iTunes “legal” copy (which then you presumably own forever and can download to whatever device you so choose). A document cloud that appears to be more seamless and immediate than Google (there goes courting enterprise again), free mail push, and even in app document synch that developers can adapt (look for a Google docs app the day iOS 5 “ships”). However my friends there is a dark lining to this seemingly silver cloud.
There is a reason to not toss out your desktop or notebook just quite yet. The fact is that iTunes on a PC or Mac is totally different than iTunes on an iOS device. iTunes (on an operating system) has ALWAYS been a glorified file manager. iTunes takes files on your computer and organizes them into albums and playlists. This is why the iTunes store doesn’t seem to always jive with the iTunes program, they’re built to do different things. On the iOS devices Apple decided to alleviate this “discomfort” and made “iTunes” a purchase only app. While the “iPod” app was “play only”. Here lies the dark side to the iCloud, right now there is NO way to manage media content on an iOS device. Try this, see if you can delete an album from your iPhone or iPad… Surprised? It get’s even more serious: for example, I don’t have any of my music or video’s downloaded to my iPad. On my iPhone (which doubles the memory of my iPad at 32g) I have music but no video. However if I CHOOSE do do so I can download a TV program to either, or a playlist to my iPad through drag and drop with iTunes. Also if I’ve watched that show, or am finished listening to the playlist I can simply delete it from the device and (with setting up the “synch” protocols) can still retain ownership. Also there is the question of being able to view all owned media without downloading to a computer or device. (Especially with the cloud as it’s quite possible to have NO device that contains ALL of your data) As much as Steve Jobs denigrates the file system in one sense there still is a need for some type of file manager in his “post PC” world. As of right now unless Apple decides to come out with an app or web portal in which to manage both devices and all our media content the day when iDevices can truly be independent of iTunes operating on a computer is still to come. (Though I’ll admit we’re getting there. And it may take something as simple as allowing you to delete from the iPod app and create playlists through “copy and Paste”)
I mentioned earlier a little of the implications for both business and college students with the iCloud. For business there is the positive of ditching an owned company server and having free seamless integration with multiple devices. I can see many small businesses looking over their options, and if iCloud works, going with an incredibly cheap option that already uses many of the devices their employees already own. Of course only time will tell wether Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will breakout into business norms, but remember the time when no one used Google Docks- year that was two years ago.
For students Apple will probably hope for a boost in iPad sales come the back to school season. I’m sure many parents in the past two years would have gladly sent their son or daughter off to school with a $500 iPad instead of a $1000 Macbook but the inability to back up data i.e. needing a computer anyway probably caused most to take the financial hit or buy a cheaper PC. Now the price range and capabilities of the iPad put it in prime place to truly be the one device needed for college. Also professors and colleges can really utilize the push aspects of the iCloud. (Want to know what assignment you had to read? Or when the next test is? Perhaps these questions will actually become ancient history with devices that can be instantly and constantly updated)
So will iCloud change the way we use devices? At first probably not. It’ll be a convenience service mostly. However what it may do is change how we manage and consume our media and data. You want to know why Apple hasn’t made a device that’s bigger than 64g for the last two years? (The Classic doesn’t count and I’m surprised they still sell it) iCloud is why. In the future we simply will not have any need to have massive amounts of memory either in our mobile or home use devices. (How many TERABYTES are we up to now?) We’ll simply download from our online library when we want our content. And who knows the future with 4g wireless promising downloading speeds that rival cable internet maybe we’ll live in a world where we just stream everything (Netflix or down the road? iTunes?) iCloud is a step. It’s a step into a world that in a few years time we may look at our clunky old iPhone 4 and wonder how we ever saw that as “sleek”. A world where there really is no computer desk in your home anymore because all your devices (phone, pad, tv, fridge, etc.) synch wirelessly and it no longer is something you even think about. But we’re not there yet, iCloud is just a step…