Friday, September 30, 2011

Rob Bell Not the First Megachurch Pastor to Step Down

G. Jeffrey MacDonald   

(RNS)--For pastors with ambitions to reach huge audiences, there's often no better platform than the megachurch, which has given rise to powerhouse media empires from T.D. Jakes to Max Lucado to Joel Osteen and many others.

 But some high-profile pastors are opting to leave congregational ministry altogether to pursue publishing and other media ventures full time. And that, some observers say, carries its own risks and rewards.

 On Thursday (Sept. 22), up-and-coming pastor Rob Bell announced he's leaving Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich. in December. Bell's best-selling book, Love Wins, raised more than a few eyebrows with the premise that hell doesn't include eternal torment. Now he's moving on.

 "Our founding pastor, Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience," the church said in a statement.

 Bell's resignation makes him the latest in a string a celebrity pastors who have said goodbye to weekly sermons, potluck dinners and other staples of church life. "A New Kind of Christianity" author Brian McLaren, "Crazy Love" author Francis Chan, "Deep Church" author Jim Belcher and the popular British Bible scholar N.T. Wright have all left their church leadership positions in recent years.

 Having left high-profile pastoral roles, these big-name pastors have become prolific publishers. But not all evangelicals are convinced the gospel is well-served when pastors trade a local flock for a global one.

 Within hours of the Mars Hill announcement, best-selling author and Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren was on Twitter, saying pastors who leave churches have less impact and no base for credibility.
 "Speaking tours feed the ego = All applause & no responsibility," said one Thursday tweet from Warren. "It's an unreal world. A church gives accountability & validity."

 It's not uncommon for megachurch pastor-authors to consider leaving church leadership, according to Rick Christian, president of Alive Communications, a Colorado Springs, Colo., literary agency that represents megachurch pastors. At a certain point, some feel more like a CEO than a shepherd, Christian said, and can be tempted to leave the headaches behind -- especially when they're making good money from royalties.

 But he encourages them to go slow and remember that "there's something inherently great about the accountability that comes with" leading a congregation. Authors who leave that world incur new risks, he said.

 "You can have somebody who leaves for the wrong reasons and becomes a lone ranger," Christian said. "They're just running and gunning for the Lord on planes, in hotels, zipping around at 30,000 feet. You can lose touch very quickly."

 Others agree parish life keeps communicators grounded. Elaine Heath, associate professor of evangelism at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, noted a long history of leaving the parish for wider outreach opportunities -- even Methodism founder John Wesley gave up a settled pulpit to be an itinerant preacher.

 But in today's world, she said, book tours and online virtual relationships are not enough to sustain a pastor's moral authority.

 "Sometimes God calls someone like Brian McLaren to a `global parish,'" Heath said. "What I need to know in order for such a person to remain credible, is that they are still part of a local faith community with whom they pray, worship, and serve in ministry. ... Nothing can take the place of flesh and blood community."

 To be sure, many megachurch pastors still find value in sustaining congregational ties. Lucado, for instance, earns his living from various publishing ventures and the royalties on more than 80 million books sold, but he still serves without salary as minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.

 "From a business standpoint, I just think there is a grounding that happens in the local church," Christian said. "It's not for everybody.

 Seasons can change; callings can change. But if you're called in (to church ministry), make sure you're called out for all the right reasons."

c. 2011 Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Publication date: September 26, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Your Pastor Is on the Firing Line—Please Pray!

by J. Lee Grady

This Sunday is Pastor Appreciation Day. Here are six specific ways to pray for your spiritual leaders.

Often when I speak to a group of aspiring ministers, I greet them by saying: “Welcome to the war.” I also remind them that when they signed up to join the front lines of spiritual battle, a bright red target was painted on their backs. Ministry can be wonderfully rewarding, but let’s not kid anybody: Most of the time it’s a thankless job full of headaches, disappointments, conflicts, loneliness, frustration, petty complaints and tight budgets.

And while we might assume all pastors lead megachurches and drive new cars, keep in mind that the average church in this country has 75 members and the average pastor makes less than $34,000 a year—and may work an extra job to feed his or her family. The statistics are alarming: 90 percent of pastors work more than 50 hours a week; 70 percent say they don't have any close friends; and 45 percent say they've had to take a leave of absence from ministry because of depression or burnout.

“It’s normal for leaders to have emotional highs and lows, but when discouragement becomes debilitating it can knock them out for good.”

My friend Eddie Taylor, pastor of Church on the Hill in Dalton, Ga., has faced his share of ministry pressures and has looked burnout square in the face a few times. He dug deep in the story of Elijah (see 1 Kings 17-19) to learn how to survive, and he recently shared with me a message about how to pray for people in leadership. I decided to share his main points since October is Clergy Appreciation Month.

I’m sure your pastor would appreciate a nice card next Sunday, but he or she would be doubly blessed to know that you were praying regularly along these lines:

1. Pray against witchcraft and manipulation. As soon as Elijah stepped into the fray and challenged Israel’s idolatry, Jezebel went into attack mode. We must never be ignorant of Satan’s schemes (see 2 Cor. 2:11). The enemy targets Christian leaders, aiming to pull them into immorality, deception or pride; or he dispatches human messengers to control or discourage them. You can expose these demonic plots through prayer.

2. Pray for courage. Elijah had guts. He not only got in Ahab’s face, but he also organized a public showdown to challenge Jezebel’s false prophets. Yet right after the fire fell from heaven in response to Elijah’s prayer, Jezebel threatened him—and the Bible says “he was afraid and arose and ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:3, NASB). Leaders are called to confront, but they can’t do it without supernatural boldness from God. Ask the Lord to make your pastor brave.

3. Pray against depression. After Elijah fled to the wilderness, he started acting like a burned-out pastor. He prayed: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life” (19:4). It’s normal for leaders to have emotional highs and lows, but when discouragement becomes debilitating it can knock them out for good. Pray that your pastor will draw fresh joy from the wells of salvation daily.

4. Pray for rest. After the intensity of Mount Carmel, Elijah went a day’s journey from Beersheeba and slept under a juniper tree. Sometimes what pastors need most is a day off—yet many feel driven to perform, either because of people’s expectations or self-imposed demands. What makes matters worse is that many pastors have not empowered others to help with the workload. Pray that your pastor not only gets enough sleep, but that he or she gets times of refreshing away from phone calls, e-mails and constant “emergencies” that can surely wait.

5. Pray for the touch of God. Elijah found supernatural strength after his wearying experience on the mountaintop—not just because he ate and slept but because the angel of the Lord touched him twice (see 19:6-7). Pray that your pastor receives a double portion of the Lord’s presence. It is only the Lord’s supernatural anointing that enables us to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Pray for disciples. Even after Elijah heard God’s voice on Mount Horeb, he was tempted to think he was the only true prophet left. But the Lord told him there were 7,000 prophets who had not bowed their knees to Baal, and He instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (see 19:15-18). God does not want leaders to do their work alone. We are called to a long-distance race that involves multiple generations! Pray that your pastor will arrange his priorities correctly so he can invest his life in younger leaders.

P.S.—Don’t hand this list to your pastor next Sunday and tell him or her that you are praying these things. (As in, “Pastor, I’m praying you will have the courage to confront the gossips in this church—especially Mrs. Clack!”) No one wants to feel manipulated by prayer requests. Instead, pray in secret—and ask the Lord to uphold your pastor with the same grace He gave Elijah.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He’d like to hear why you love your pastor, or how your pastor has blessed you or your family. You can post tributes to your pastor in the comment section below.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don’t Live Frustrated!

by Joyce Meyer

The key to a life of peace is accepting God’s amazing graceEmpower-Frustrated

I spent a lot of years being frustrated about a lot of things. But one of my biggest problems used to be the frustration I had about me. I didn’t like myself.

So I tried very hard to change. I didn’t like my personality. I felt like I was too bold, straightforward, loud and expressive. Along with that, it seemed that every message I heard at church (and we were in church a lot) just pointed out more things that were wrong with me. I remember at times wondering, How can one person have so much wrong with them?

I tried over and over to be like people I thought were what I should be like. And I tried very hard to be “good.” But all my trying just made me very, very frustrated!

Eventually, two things happened that helped me get a breakthrough. First, I came to realize the truth about who God created me to be. He was the One who gave me this personality—and He was not going to help me be somebody else! And second, I learned from 1 Peter 5:5 that my pride was keeping me from getting the help I needed from God to make the changes He wanted me to make.

Let’s take a look at this verse. It says, “Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility. ... For God sets Himself against the proud ... [and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble” (AMP).

It was very eye-opening to realize that much of my frustration was happening because God was frustrating my efforts to change myself in my own strength! My pride—trying to change myself instead of depending on God and trusting Him to change me—was actually keeping me from getting what I really needed.

Every time we feel frustration, it means we’ve stopped relying on God and are trying to make something happen on our own, in our own way. Pride says, “I know it all, and I don’t need any help, thank you.” And God hates pride. But He gives grace to the humble.

Well, I finally understood that God would give grace to me if I would humble myself before Him and totally depend on Him to change me. The truth is, I couldn’t change myself.

I had to say, “God, I’ll change if You change me.” And I had to receive the grace of God to trust Him and stop trying to do it myself. So what is the grace of God?

One common definition is, “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” This is true, but there’s more to it.

Grace is also, “God’s power coming to us freely, enabling us to do with ease what we could never do on our own with any amount of struggle and effort.” His grace is available to us every day of our lives for every situation we have. We just have to receive it by faith—which God also gives us.

If we put our faith in God and really depend on Him, He will give us the ability to do what we need to do.

I really want you to get this, because we all have situations in our lives that are difficult—some more than others—and God doesn’t want us to be miserable while we’re in them. He wants to give us a special grace to go through these times with peace and joy. When we do, this attitude is what will minister to people around us and cause them to want what we have.

So what are you doing with your faith? Are you putting faith in yourself, trying to do on your own what only God can do? Are you trying to solve your own problems, change yourself, get your boss to promote or recognize you, make your kids do what you think they should?

Instead of frustrating yourself and putting yourself in opposition to God, put your faith in Him and trust Him to do what you can’t. When you do, His grace will come to you and enable you to do what you really need to do.

That’s amazing grace!

“Removing the Head of the Serpent” by Kay Winters

Recently I had a prophetic experience that clearly portrayed the condition of the church in America. My husband and I take evening walks that sometimes bring us through affluent neighborhoods. We enjoy viewing luxury homes with their beautiful waterfalls and fountains. Sometimes I venture to curiously peer into the backyards of these homes, finding exquisite pools, sports courts, fireplaces, and landscaping that mirror a Thomas Kincaid painting.
As we enjoyed our walk on this particular evening, suddenly my husband blurts out, “Snake!” After jumping in the opposite direction, I saw a three foot rattlesnake about a foot away from where we had been walking. Having been raised on a farm in Georgia, I am familiar with the behavior of snakes, especially poisonous vipers. Snakes react to ground vibration and I was mystified as to why the snake was not hissing or coiling to strike us. To our surprise, the snake ignored us, and slowly slithered in the opposite direction. The snake seemed to be right “at home” in the landscape of the neighborhood.

We decided to alert the homeowner regarding the snake. I rang the door bell and was greeted by a man in his 40’s. I said, “Sir, there is a rattlesnake in your front yard. Perhaps you might want to dispose of him.” He froze and didn’t respond. Knowing the snake could quickly escape, I continued, “Sir, this is a neighborhood with lots of children.” Finally, after another long pause, he replied, “Ok, give me a moment”. I could tell he did not want to be bothered, but my last statement provoked him to action. After what seemed like an eternity, the homeowner emerged from his garage with a six foot pole with a huge razor-like blade attached. I thought to myself, “I said ‘rattlesnake’, not ‘alligator’.”

As we approached the rattlesnake, I was amazed that it was still moving across the landscape at a snail’s pace. The homeowner looked terrified as he cautiously approached the snake from behind. He repeatedly raised his weapon high in the air, practicing his potential strike, yet hesitated to deliver the death blow. Not wanting to embarrass him, I kept silent, yet my thought was, “What is wrong with you? Remove that serpents head now”!

Serving God or Mammon

At that instant, I knew this experience paralleled the present condition of the American Church. The homeowner represents the Church and the rattlesnake represents Satan. Satan is not intimidated or threatened by the Church. In fact, he wanders in and out of the Body of Christ often without resistance or consequence. There is no need for Satan to hiss, coil or strike at us, since we pose little threat to him. He knows the focus of the Church at large is not Christ-centered, but instead self-centered. We have set our hearts on temporal treasures, in lieu of eternity, seeking the hand of God, instead of the face of God. Even our ministers have been deceived, esteeming the size of their congregations, offerings, and buildings as the measuring rod for success. A distorted “prosperity” gospel has taught us to use our faith almost exclusively to obtain larger homes, cars, and 401K accounts?

Our spiritual eyes have been encrusted with an infection that has distorted our vision. Blinded by materialism, we pursue Mammon, while Satan lies quietly at our feet. Our pursuits of pleasure have hardened us from not only the cries of the needy, but also the whispers of the Holy Spirit. We neither want to answer the doorbell, nor have our routine disrupted in any way. In effect, most of us are wearing a sign that says, “Do not disturb!” We have to be provoked to emerge from our comfort zones to serve at home, at church, or in our communities.

Like the church of Laodicea, the American Church has been deceived by riches, having become unaware of our spiritual poverty and blindness. As a result, many American Christians unknowingly worship the idol of Mammon. In His mercy, the Lord has used the downward spiral of our nation’s economy and monetary system to warn us not to trust in uncertain riches, but in Him who freely gives us all things to enjoy (Revelation 3:15-19, Luke 16:13).

Trampling on Serpents

We are destined to trample on serpents and scorpions, crushing Satan under our feet. However, one key element that enables us to triumph over the works of the devil is the depth of our repentance. Only profound repentance of our spiritual complacency and idolatry will cure our spiritual blindness, enabling us to identify the serpents in our lives. No longer ignorant of Satan’s devices, we can shake the kingdom of darkness, cause Satan to flee, and erect a “No trespassing!” sign on the landscape of our lives.

Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

We must become a generation of snake killers, as our battle is against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. As soldiers of the cross, we must exchange our cordial passivity for a violent militancy and remove the heads of the serpents in our lives. Indeed, His power working in us can break any yoke, cut through any chain, and His light in us can overwhelm any depth of darkness.

I John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

The snakes we encounter will hiss, coil and strike in fear at the Greater One who lives within us. As we exercise our authority and God given power, many of these serpents will flee in fear. But what about those serpents who resist and refuse to exit our lives? We must say, “Off with their heads!” (James 4:7, I John 3:8).

Source: Prepared the Way International

Prepare the Way of the Lord

rob_wintersby Rob Winters

In March of this year, approximately a week after the earthquake in Japan, I abruptly awoke at 1:23 a.m. I did not give it much thought, until I again suddenly awoke at precisely 1:23 a.m. the very next night. Knowing that the Lord was speaking through this prophetic sign, I carefully examined all the 1:23, 1:2-3, 12:3 and 123 scriptures in the Bible. I discovered in the 123 verses a clear prophetic message to America. The first thing that caught my attention was that two of the 123 scripture passages in the Gospels proclaim a sober message to prepare the way of the Lord, by making a straight path for Him.

John 1:23 says: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Mark 1:2-3: “As it is written in the prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”

There are many aspects to New Testament prophetic ministry, including signs, wonders, miracles and prophecy. However, the missing ingredient in many prophetic ministries today is repentance preaching. Unfortunately, over the past several years, many have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, proclaiming what the church wants to hear, instead of what the church needs to hear.

In contrast, John the Baptist, without one recorded sign, wonder or miracle prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming by simply preaching a message and administering a baptism of repentance. Today the Lord seeks to condition and commission a prophetic company of ministers with a message and mantle of repentance, in order to prepare the way not only for an unprecedented, worldwide revival and end-time harvest, but also for Jesus’ second coming. Therefore, judgment must first begin in the house of God, starting with the foundation—His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (1 Pet. 4:17).

Before we can prepare the way of the Lord, we must be prepared by the Lord. In other words, before we can make straight the way of the Lord, we have to straighten up. Indeed, America’s pulpiteers must experience a purging and cleansing prior to the corporate purification and transformation of our churches into temples of glory.

Ministers must therefore lead by example—confessing and forsaking sins such as ambition, greed, pride, jealousy, prayerlessness and pornography. Without genuine repentance, anointed and convicting messages of repentance will not be heralded from America’s pulpits, and the church at large will be left to drown in a quagmire of sin.

Because of the Sins of Her Prophets
After years of intercession for and passionate prophetic pleas to his beloved Israel, the prophet Jeremiah was heart-broken over Israel’s take-over and exile to Babylon. Jeremiah’s lamentations, recorded in Scripture, reveal that the root cause of Israel’s backslidden spiritual condition and resultant captivity was “because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests” (Lam. 4:12-13).

In the Old Covenant, prophets, priests and kings were divinely delegated, authoritative offices through which the Lord achieved His purposes. Prophets proclaimed and kings executed divine will, purpose and direction. Priests, on the other hand, interceded to God in behalf of the people.

However, in the New Covenant, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers comprise the foundational authority structure of the church. Through these offices, the church—Christ’s ambassadorship of kings and priests, is edified and equipped to execute the Lord’s end-time purposes in every kingdom of this world. These earthly kingdoms include governmental, educational, marketplace, media, arts and entertainment venues of our culture (Eph. 4:11-12, 2 Cor. 5:20, Rev. 5:10).

Therefore, the degeneracy and looming judgment of America is due to the sins of not only our prophets, but also the entire authority structure of the church, which includes pastors, teachers, evangelists and apostles.

For example, some pastors, for fear of losing members, have cowered from preaching on tithing and fasting or against adultery and fornication. Apprehensive of losing popularity, financial support and airtime, some evangelists have refrained from decrying sins such as abortion, pornography and drunkenness. In order to maintain friendly associations and not “rock the boat”, some apostles have failed to raise higher standards for righteous and holy living, prayer, and accountability for their network members. Indeed, ministers’ fear of man and love of money not only have kept America spiritually lukewarm, but also have prevented revival fires from burning throughout our nation.

To continue reading this prophetic message, click here and go to "Prepare the Way of the Lord: July 2011."

About the author: Rob Winters is president and co-founder of Prepare the Way International, an itinerant prophetic ministry based in Phoenix. Prepare the Way's mission is to ignite a spiritual revolution and reformation in America through preaching repentance, prophesying restoration and promoting revival. Material in today's Prophetic Insight was adapted from Prepare the Way's prophetic bulletin, The Messenger. The newsletter is available on the ministry's website,

The Greater the Affliction, the Greater the Reward

by R.T. Kendall Daily Devotionals -

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! —Galatians 6:11

Some scholars have suggested that Paul's thorn in the flesh was that his eyesight was deteriorating. Whether it was partial blindness or not, we do not know. Perhaps it was a disability.

Whatever our thorn in the flesh is, and regardless of whether we have asked for it to be removed (as we surely have), I urge all of us to realize that it is there because God says it is still right for it to be there. It is true that God will use you all the more and all the better because that disability is still there.

I once asked Joni Eareckson Tada, "Would you like to be healed?" I thought she would have a quick answer, because I thought everyone asked her that. But it was as though she had never even thought about it! Finally she said, "Yes, but," she continued, "the most precious time of my day is when they put me to bed, and I am alone with the Lord. I am so afraid that if I didn't have this paralysis, I wouldn't have that intimacy."

The reward for being patient and not complaining is worth the wait. It is what helps ensure a great reward when you get to heaven. In my opinion, because of this kind of affliction, when one doesn't complain, the reward will be far, far greater.

The greater the affliction, the greater the reward. The greater the suffering, the greater the anointing. All this is guaranteed if you and I don't give in to self-pity or complaining.

The thorn in the flesh gives us the possibility of a greater reward than we would have had. The greater the handicap, the greater the impairment, the greater the disability, the greater the reward if we don't murmur. Here below you may have felt it was a deprivation. In heaven you will say (if I dare use this word), "How lucky I was to have it." I guarantee that this is the case.

Revival: It Requires Obedience

by A W Tozer

But why do you call Me "Lord, Lord," and not do the things which I  say? - Luke 6:46

It is my conviction that much, very much, prayer for and talk about  revival these days is wasted energy. Ignoring the confusion of  figures, I might say that it is hunger that appears to have no  object; it is dreamy wishing that is too weak to produce moral  action. It is fanaticism on a high level for, according to John  Wesley, "a fanatic is one who seeks desired ends while ignoring the  constituted means to reach those ends."...

The correction of this error is extemely difficult for it entails  more than a mere adjustment of our doctrinal beliefs; it strikes at  the whole Adam-life and requires self-abnegation, humility and cross  carrying. In short it requires obedience. And that we will do  anything to escape.

It is almost unbelievable how far we will go to avoid obeying God.  We call Jesus "Lord" and beg Him to rejuvenate our souls, but we are  careful to do not the things He says. When faced with a sin, a  confession or a moral alteration in our life, we find it much easier  to pray half a night than to obey God.  The Size of the Soul, 18-19.

"May this never be true of my life, Lord! I see the futility; I'm  convinced of the need. Now enable me by Your Spirit to live this  obedience. Amen." 

Revival: Not Just Intensity of Prayer

by A W Tozer

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And  he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and  manifest Myself to him.  - John 14:21

Intensity of prayer is no criterion of its effectiveness. A man may  throw himself on his face and sob out his troubles to the Lord and  yet have no intention to obey the commandments of Christ. Strong  emotion and tears may be no more than the outcropping of a vexed  spirit, evidence of stubborn resistance to God's known will....

No matter what I write here, thousands of pastors will continue to  call their people to prayer in the forlorn hope that God will  finally relent and send revival if only His people wear themselves  out in intercession. To such people God must indeed appear to be a  hard taskmaster, for the years pass and the young get old and the  aged die and still no help comes. The prayer meeting room becomes a  wailing wall and the lights burn long, and still the rains tarry.

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Let any reader begin to obey and  he will have the answer. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he  is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father,  and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).
Isn't that what we want after all?  The Size of the Soul, 20-21.

"Lord, help me to obey Your commandments. My spirit is willing, but  my flesh is weak! I long to live in that obedience, in order that I  may know the Father's love and manifestation to me. Amen." 

Today's "Insight for Leaders" is taken by permission from the book, Tozer on Christian Leadership, published by WingSpread Publishers

Which do your leaders need? Which do you need? A mentor, a coach, a shepherd, a discipler, a consultant?

by John Purcell - Transform

What's the difference, anyway?

One of the great mistakes i keep making in my life is trying to do life by myself, without God and without other people that God puts there for me. There are times when every leader and every organization can benefit from support. Actually, a more Biblical statement would be that we all need support all the time. The question is:  In addition to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, what KIND of support do we need?
I find that there is a great deal of misunderstanding among the above terms, and the great risks of this confusion are these:
  • You may attempt to support one of your leaders and take an approach that doesn't work for them.
  • You may have very different expectations between yourself and someone you want to support or someone you want to support you. The result could be disappointment, disillusionment, lack of growth, and wasted time.
  • You may not know that the very thing you need is available and, as a result, not get the support and help that you could use.

So here is the Transform Glossary of Terms to hopefully clarify this for you once and for all. If you have somewhat different take on some of these descriptions, that's OK. There is not universal agreement. But my hope is that this Glossary will still be extremely helpful to you going forward and encourage you to be more involved with leaders, clarifying your role. i also hope it will give you the freedom to enlist the kind of support for yourself that you need right now and in the future.
Mentor -- Someone who comes alongside you with advice and counsel that comes from their wisdom and experience. Based on this definition, most mentors are more experienced than you in at least one specific area. Therefore, they are often, but not always,  older than you. In many other countries the culture is such that mentors must always be older.
Coach -- Someone who comes alongside you to offer support, encouragement, and accountability to help you grow in one or more areas of your life. A coach takes the primary approach of asking powerful questions to pull out of you what the Holy Spirit and your experiences and wisdom already have put in you, keeping you accountable for your own actions and growth. A coach does not have to have as much knowledge and experience  as you do in any particular area but does need the coaching perspective, which most often comes from coach training.
Shepherd -- This has the widest variation of definitions of all of these terms, which is one reason that churches struggle so much to be successful at "shepherding" their people (they haven't defined what that means for them). I personally use it to mean caring for someone's whole life, as opposed to just their leadership role or growth in a specific area. This could include mentoring, coaching, or discipling.
Discipler -- A person who intentionally invests his life in others to help them grow spiritually. Biblically, the outcome should be a more mature believer who does the same in the life of others (2 Tim 2:2).
Consultant -- Someone who assists an organization, in our context a church or some ministry of a church, by assessing the organization and then advising it on what it should do to be more effective in a specific area or in general.
Organizational Coach -- You may not be familiar with this term, but, after reading the above definitions, you might best understand it as someone who comes alongside to coach the whole organization, as opposed to the pure consultant who "mentors" the organization. So the organizational coach asks questions, draws out of the leaders what they think they should do, helps them put a plan together that they can believe in, and supports them with accountability to follow through.
How do you select what you should offer or obtain for yourself?

I have found that very often a leader or organization truly needs a combination of the above approaches. They may think they want mentoring, for an individual, or consulting for an organization, but the best action steps, most likely to actually be implemented, will come out of a coaching approach. Or they may want coaching, personal or organizational, but along the way they really need to be challenged to consider taking a specific road.
The Gospel
 The most important example of this last point is that we all forget the Gospel all the time. I sure do. And i need someone in my life who has the permission to remind me of that and speak the Gospel truth back into my life. In fact, whichever of these specific roles you are in, your responsibility is to let Christ work through you in the life of the others. "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Global stock market crash

Larry Elliott and Cameron Robertson,
Friday 5 August 2011

The FTSE and Dow continued to fall on Friday as the Germans poured cold water on calls to expand the eurozone bailout fund.

How does the the crisis on the markets affect ordinary people? And how low can the FTSE 100, the Dow Jones and the Asian markets go?

Economics editor Larry Elliott assesses the impact of the stock market crash and the implications for the euro and the dollar.

George Osborne on the economy: the recovery will be longer and harder than we had hoped - 11 August 2011

The chancellor George Osborne addresses MPs on the Eurozone debt crisis, calling it the 'most dangerous time for the global economy since 2008'

Sunday, September 25, 2011


by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 - April 27, 2011]

One of the greatest lessons we can ever learn is that our battle is never with people. It is never with co-workers, neighbors, or our unsaved loved ones—but with God!

If you settle things with God, everything else has to fall into line. When you are right before Him—sprinkled with Christ’s blood, having no sin in your life, prevailing in prayer—then all the demons in hell cannot make a dent in what God wants to do! He wants you to have that kind of holy strength. Hosea said, “The Lord also brings a charge against Judah [His people]” (Hosea 12:2). What is this controversy God has with His church? It is spiritual laziness! We want miracles, blessings, deliverance, but at no cost, with no effort!

Who among God’s people today prays all night, wrestling, fighting, weeping, crying out to God as Jacob did? Who wants holiness, purity and Christlikeness so much they are willing to shut themselves in with God until they break through? Who is so consumed with pleasing God that they are desperate to be delivered from all habits, all lusts—and they cry out, fight and wrestle with God until He breaks all chains?

Hosea said to Israel, “All you want is prosperity and security! You are not willing to take a stand. You don’t want to live for Jehovah’s pleasure, but for your own!”

Jacob was a fighter from the day he was born. He prevailed “by his strength” (see Genesis 25:26) and so must you and I! We have His strength, but we do not use it! “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Colossians 1:11).

“He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

The church of Jesus Christ is never going to see what God has for His body until He sees us seeking Him in earnest! “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

God wants you to lay hold of Him because He loves you! He is saying, “Here it is. If you want it, come and get it!” He wants to make a strong soldier out of you, fit for His army!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Can A Christian Sing The Blues?

by Michael Spencer - Internet Monk

When someone says I’ve written something I shouldn’t have written, you can be almost certain that I’ve written something using the language of lament. L-A-M-E-N-T.

All of you that just said “huh?” please step into the side room. If you came in a bus, they’ll wait. It’s time for a lesson on some of the most important parts of the Bible that you won’t be hearing in church.

Lament is a form of language used THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE (excuse the shouting) when human beings respond to their experience of God seeming to not keep his covenant promises to them. Lament is “Where are you Lord? What are you doing? Why are you against me? How could you let this happen? I did what you commanded, and now this? My life is miserable. Where is God?” If you’re like most Christians, you know this stuff is in the Bible, but your pastor never gets near it at the risk of a deacons meeting to ask why he’s lost his faith.

Lament is a kind of mourning, and it’s a very legitimate and common Biblical form of prayer. It’s part of how the Bible teaches us to pray and worship. It sounds radical in the Bible, and it sounds downright dangerous in contemporary usage.

For example, read Jeremiah 20:7-18. Here are some some highlights, rephrased into the vernacular by me:

God, you’ve conned me. You’ve made me into a laughingstock. Your word is a cause of derision and rejection. I’d love to stop talking about you, but unfortunately I can’t. Cursed be the day I was born. It would have been better if I’d died in the womb, or my mother murdered, than to live this life.

Or try Jeremiah 15:15-21.

God, I did everything you asked me to, but it now appears you have just given me unceasing pain, refused to take it away and proven yourself to be deceitful.

Yes, he said deceitful. Lamenters don’t always get their theology right. In the midst of pain, our prayers and complaints are covered up in emotion, and that emotion often isn’t the kind of “everything in its place” theology smiley happy religious people need.

Similar material can be found throughout the Bible, from whole chapters in Job to long sections of the Psalms to statements by Jesus that we all know, like “Why have you forsaken me?” As I said, we all know it’s there, but we don’t like to think about what it means. We’re trained to stick with what won’t make anyone blink and wince.

Lament can be direct and blunt, full of anger, depression and bitterness, directed at God in direct address. It can be subdued and quiet, barely detectable. It can be complaints to other persons of faith, or it can simply be the lamenter talking to him/herself.

Abraham lamented. So did Moses. So did David. So did Job. So did most of the prophets and yes, even Jesus on occasion.

Communal laments are common in the Psalms, reflecting Israel’s experience of questioning the covenant and experiencing the dark side of their faith. You’ll never read the Psalms in a disciplined way without having to deal with the implications of lamentation and the goodness/sovereignty of God.
An entire book of the older testament laments the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and covenant certainties.

So, how does this get a writer or preacher in trouble again?

When contemporary Christians, especially preachers and teachers, use the language of lament, it’s Biblical context is lost on some hearers, and all they hear is doubt and denial. (Trust me on that one. I have much experience.) In fact, what they are actually hearing is faith; faith finding its voice and regaining its foundation after distressing life experiences and disappointments.

The language of lament is not welcome in most contemporary Christianity. Evangelicals in particular must be held responsible for creating an atmosphere where a person in pain and loss cannot speak in the SAME LANGUAGE THE BIBLE USES (excuse the caps. Sorry.) without running the risk of controversy and heresy.

How many churches have people who need to have their own unspoken laments affirmed by the Biblical language of lament and the experiences of God’s people in lamentation, but are denied the opportunity to feel human because Christians are so invested in maintaining illusions.

Ironically, Christians specialize in the language of glory and triumph, gullibly believing any report of miracles and healings must be true in order to prove that God is still doing what they’ve been told he should always do, but it is the experience and language of lament- disappointment and sorrow- that would tell honest unbelievers that we live in the same world as they do, yet still believe in God. Our proficiency in triumphalism backfires with the genuine souls who want to know if God is still there when he seems so absent.

Calvin Seerveld has penned a contemporary congregational lament. Ask yourself if this reading could find a place in your church? Does it have a place in the faith journey of a Christian? Or are we destined to be a happy, clappy people despite the truths of our lives?

Why, Lord, must evil seem to get its way?
We do confess our sin is deeply shameful;
but now the wicked openly are scornful,
they mock your name and laugh at our dismay.
We know your providential love holds true:
nothing can curse us endlessly with sorrow.
Transform, dear Lord, this damage into good;
show us your glory, hidden by this evil.

Why, Lord must he be sentenced, locked away?
True, he has wronged his neighbor and has failed you.
Yet none of us is innocent and sinless;
only by grace we follow in your way.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.
Why, Lord, must she be left to waste away?
Do you not see how painfully she suffers?
Could you not change the curse of this disaster?
Amaze us by your mighty sovereignty.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.

Why, Lord, must broken vows cut like a knife?
How can one wedded body break in pieces?
We all have failed at being pure and faithful;
only by grace we keep our solemn vows.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.

Why, Lord, did you abruptly take him home?
Could you not wait to summon him before you?
Why must we feel the sting of death’s old cruelty?
Come quickly, Lord, do not leave us alone.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.

Why, Lord, must any child of yours be hurt?
Does all our pain and sorrow somehow please you?
You are a God so jealous for our praises
hear this lament as prayer that fills the earth.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.
Text Calvin Seerveld, I986. c 7 986, Calvin Seerveld. Used by permission.

There are many excellent resources on lament. Evangelicals can learn much from the writings and music of Michael Card who has two books on lament- both excellent- and is now doing teaching on the subject. Here are two mp3s of Card teaching on lament, and particularly how lament changes our thinking about God.

Some excellent articles on lament are available on the web. Check out this one at Reformed Worship. Then do a search of back issues under the search term “lament.”

One of the ways the church makes itself expendable, even intolerable, to some serious Jesus followers is the rejection and devaluing of the language of lament. We are human beings and our experience of God is sometimes one of sorrow and pain. Such an experience becomes part of our prayer, our affirmation of faith and our corporate witness.

Michael Horton says the evangelical church has decided no one can sing or play the blues in church.
That’s a very bad, and dishonest, decision. Singing the blues to God is honest, and the ailing evangelicalism around us is dying for lack of honesty.

The Difference Between a Sin and a Mistake

by Michael Hyatt - Intentional Leadership

In recent years, I have noticed an increasing tendency for people to admit to mistakes rather than sins. It happens at every level, whether someone is caught cheating on their spouse, filing false insurance claims, or shoplifting from a clothing store.

After the National Enquirer broke the news about Senator John Edwards’ affair, he said,
“Two years ago I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I am responsible for and no one else. In 2006, I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time.”
On the surface, this admission seems humble and contrite. What more could you want?
But when people refer to this kind of behavior as a mistake rather than a sin, they are either consciously or unconsciously evading responsibility.

Why? Because of the fundamental difference between the two. Many people assume they are synonymous. They are not.

The term “mistake” implies an error in judgment—something done unintentionally. For example, a legitimate mistake might be:
  • Turning onto a one-way street, going the wrong way.
  • Pouring salt into your coffee, thinking it was sugar.
  • Mis-typing a web address and ending up on a porn site.
These could all be legitimate mistakes. They happen because we get distracted or careless. But a sin is more than a mistake. It is a deliberate choice to do something you know is wrong.

The word “transgression” is even stronger. It implies deliberately stepping over a boundary. The word “trespass” is similar. It implies entering onto another person’s property without permission.

Unlike a mistake, we choose to sin. Therefore, we must accept responsibility for it—and the consequences that follow. This is the measure of maturity and marks the transition from adolescence into adulthood. It is the foundation of a civilized society.

What can we do to make sure we preserve this distinction between sins and mistakes? I suggest five actions:

Choose your words carefully. Don’t minimize your sin by calling it a mistake. The meaning of the Greek word homologeĊ—translated confession in 1 John 1:9—is “to speak the same word.” In other words, agree with God. Say the same thing about your sin that He says about it. You can’t be cured of the disease if you continue to deny it.

Take responsibility for your behavior. If you have sinned, own it. (In fact, if you have made a mistake, own that too.) Take the hit. Even if someone provoked you, own your response. If they were 90% responsible, accept 100% responsibility for your 10%. When it comes to sin, there is never a legitimate excuse. None.

Acknowledge your guilt. It is normal to feel guilty when you sin. Guilt is God’s gift, designed to motivate you to initiate reconciliation. The sooner you acknowledge your responsibility, the sooner you can resolve the problem. And never follow your confession with the word “but.” This is the preface to an excuse. It negates everything you have said before.

Change your behavior. Words are cheap. Some people are very adept at saying they are sorry—but then … nothing changes. Repentance is not only a change of mind; it is a change of direction. Unless you change your behavior, you haven’t really repented, no matter how many tears you may have shed.

Ask for forgiveness. You can’t demand it. You are not entitled to it. You can only ask and hope that the person you have sinned against will extend grace. Sometimes, they will wait until you have manifested the fruit of repentance, and that is fine (see Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:19–20).

Yes, we all make mistakes. But more importantly, we all sin. We need to understand the difference between the two and be willing to call it what it is. Until we do, we can’t really repair what has been broken.

Question: How did you feel the last time someone sinned against you and called it a mistake?

The Disappearance of Sin–A Flight from Reality

By Albert Mohler

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, called him the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”

The disappearance of sin from our moral vocabulary is one of the hallmarks of the modern age–and of postmodern morality. These days, most people think themselves to be imperfect, leaving room for improvement–but they do not think of themselves as sinners in need of forgiveness and redemption. This point has been raised by many, but an early prophet of sin’s disappearance was not a theologian, but a psychiatrist.

Karl Menninger was a famous American psychiatrist, and he was among the first mental heath professionals to suggest that some psychological disorders were actually treatable. The established thought at the time was that virtually all mental disorders were incurable, but Menninger was unwilling to accept that assumption. His innovative treatment of psychological diseases largely shaped the modern practice of psychiatry.

Nevertheless, Menninger was not without controversy. Perhaps his most controversial contribution came in the form of his 1973 book, Whatever Became of Sin? The psychological community had almost universally banned the word “sin” from its vocabulary. In fact, therapists blamed the notion of sin for producing guilt, which seemed to be psychologically unhealthy. How’s that for a reversal of reality?

Menninger wrote with moral indignation. He understood the reason the notion of sin had been rejected by psychiatry, but he found that he could not explain all human behavior as either “neurotic” or “healthy.” There was another category of behavior as Menninger observed–and that category was sin. Menninger’s book was a powerful and influential call for recognizing sin as sin. He demonstrated that the psychological community was not alone; society at large had rejected the notion of sin.

Words such as “disease,” “anti-social behavior,” and “lack of moral development” had replaced “sin” as explanations for human behavior. Menninger attacked this evasion.

He wrote: “I believe there is ’sin’ which is expressed in ways that cannot be subsumed . . . as ‘crime,’ ‘disease,’ ‘delinquency,’ ‘deviancy.’ There is immorality; there is unethical behavior; there is wrong doing. And I hope to show that there is usefulness in retaining the concept, and indeed the SIN, which now shows some signs of returning to public acceptance.”

Menninger’s call was heard by some of his fellow psychologists, but rejected by many. His recovery of “sin” was seen by many of his colleagues as a giant step backward for a progressive science. Furthermore, his hope that sin might return as a public concern was not realized.

Genuine Christianity cannot escape dealing with sin. The Gospel will not allow any evasion of sin as the universal human condition of revolt against the Creator, the God of absolute holiness and absolute love. Nevertheless, Menninger’s question still remains an indictment of the church as well as society: Whatever became of sin?

The famous psychiatrist noted the absence of “sin” in his profession, but we should notice the decline of “sin” within the church. Some leading churches and television preachers have followed the lead of the psychological community in rejecting the notion of sin. The word is seldom uttered in many churches–even some who would describe themselves as evangelical.

This is an abdication of the Gospel. Where sin is not faced as sin, grace cannot be grace. What need have men and women of atonement, when they are told that their deepest problem is something less than the Bible explicitly teaches? Weak teaching on sin leads to cheap grace, and neither leads to the Gospel.

Scripture identifies sin as humanity’s willful revolt against God. It is rebellion and disobedience. Furthermore, it is “missing the mark” of faithfulness to God’s holy standard. It is the most fundamental human problem, and it is the reason we need a Savior. It is a revolt against God’s authority and an insult to God’s glory. It is the human in moral revolt, usually disguised as personal autonomy.

Christians have had a hard time striking a biblical balance. Some minimalize sin so that it seems not to apply to their behavior. Others may fixate on certain “pet” sins as their only concern, and neglect the more pressing commands. Some churches deal with sin, but never get to the gospel. Liberal denominations have abandoned the biblical doctrine of sin, and now locate sin only in the structures of society. None of these perversions is worthy of the gospel.

Whatever became of sin? It has been redefined, ignored, rejected, neglected, and denied. Yet human beings know of its reality. Those who deny its reality were once described by another psychiatrist as “People of the Lie.”

The church must be the people of the truth. Though society and popular culture may reject sin as unsophisticated and outdated, the church must speak the word of truth. Therapy has its rightful place, and Christians should not disparage the legitimate use of psychological insights. Christian psychologists and psychiatrists should serve, in the truest sense, as healing ministers. Nevertheless, the Christian knows that the most fundamental problem faced by humanity cannot be overcome by therapy but only by atonement. And that is the gospel truth.

Source here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

House agrees to muzzle pastors with 'hate crimes' plan

'This is first time protected status given to whatever sexual orientation one has'
Posted: April 30, 2009

The U.S. House today approved a federal "hate crimes" bill that would provide special protections to homosexuals but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a "gay."

The vote, 249-175, came despite intense opposition from Republicans who argued the measure would create a privileged class.

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of the High Impact Leadership Coalition also condemned the action, offering a warning about the nation's future.

He was interviewed on the issue by Greg Corombos of Radio America/WND, and the audio of his interview is embedded here:

Jackson said the action puts "sexual orientation" in a specially protected class under federal law.
"Based on history, it really isn't something that needs to be protected," he said. "There's a problem that this is going to mark the first time that a protected class status is given to … whatever sexual orientation one has."

He said the experience in other countries has led to prosecution of Christians. In Sweden, for example, a minister was sentenced to 30 days in jail for preaching from Leviticus.

Similar state laws have resulted in similar results. In Philadelphia several years ago, a 73-year-old grandmother was jailed for trying to share Christian tracts with people at a homosexual festival, Jackson said.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said H.R. 1913 will create "thought crimes," and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said it will end equality in the U.S.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, charged the plan will divide America into groups of more favored versus less. He again cited USC Title 18, Section 2a, the foundation of H.R. 1913, which says anyone who through speech "induces" commission of a violent hate crime "will be tried as a principal" alongside the active offender.

But there is no epidemic of hate in the U.S., he noted.

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., introduced a striking argument: If Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who supports traditional marriage, had slapped the homosexual judge who derided her on the stage under H.R. 1913 she could be indicted as a "violent hate criminal," facing a possible 10 years in prison. But, Forbes said, if the homosexual judge had slapped her, she would have had no special protection under H.R. 1913.

Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said, "The Anti-Christian Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives has acted today to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, youth pastors, Bible teachers, and anyone else whose Bible speech and thought is based upon and reflects the truths found in the Bible.

"A pastor's sermon could be considered 'hate speech' under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on 'sexual orientation.' The pastor could be prosecuted for 'conspiracy to commit a hate crime'" she said.

"This Democrat-controlled Congress has now elevated pedophiles and other bizarre sexual orientations, as well as drag queens, transgenders, lesbians and gay men to the level of protection of that already given to African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities in the law," she said.

House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Democrats have placed a higher value on some lives compared to others, a decision he said is unconstitutional.

Not happy with just making Christian teachings on homosexuality illegal, supporters have approved a law that also provides grant money for so-called "sensitivity-training" to provide pro-homosexual propaganda, noted the public-interest legal group Liberty Counsel.

When a plan virtually identical to the current Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 was developed in the last Congress, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., admitted during a hearing on the bill it could be used to prosecute pastors merely for preaching against homosexuality under the premise that they could be "inducing" violence in someone.

The bill ultimately failed then because President Bush determined it was unnecessary – the crimes banned in the legislation already are addressed by other laws – and it probably was unconstitutional.
"The federal hate crimes bill is bad news for everyone," said Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, who testified in Congress against the bill two years ago.

"Instead of treating all crime victims equally, it creates a caste system where select groups, such as gays and lesbians, are given greater priority in the criminal justice system. This is not progress; it is political correctness. In other nations and states, the adoption of hate crimes legislation has been the first step toward widespread suppression of speech and ideas critical of homosexuality," he said.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel has spoken out against H.R. 1913 a number of times.

"As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling 'hate speech' laws. It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle," he said.

Barber said the 14th Amendment already provides that victims of violent crimes are afforded equal protection under the law "regardless of sexual preference or proclivity."

Barber cited FBI statistics showing there were about 1.4 million violent crimes in the U.S. in 2007, but only 1,512 were presumed to be "hate crimes." And two-thirds of those involved claims of "hateful" words, touching and shoving.

Under the specifications of the law, a Christian needn't touch a homosexual to face charges, he noted.
"If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in 'apprehension of bodily injury' by the Christian's words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony 'hate crime,'" he said.

WND reported previously that the plan was introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who said, "The bill only applies to bias-motivated violent crimes and does not impinge public speech or writing in any way."

Section 10 of the act states, "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."
However, critics cite United States Code Title 18, Section 2, as evidence of how the legislation could be used against people who merely speak out against homosexuality. It states: Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, warned Christians to speak up before the legislation passes. He said they are acting like the proverbial frog in a slowly heating kettle that boils to death.

"They need to wake up and take action to oppose this threat to religious liberty."

Read more: House agrees to 'muzzle pastors' with 'hate crimes' plan


Obama signs hate crimes bill into law in 2009

CNN - Gay Rights

President Obama on Wednesday signed a law that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The expanded federal hate crimes law, hailed by supporters as the first major federal gay rights legislation, was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill that Obama signed at a packed White House ceremony.

The hate crimes measure was named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

Shepard's mother, Judy, was among those at the ceremony that also included Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder and leading members of Congress and the Pentagon, who were on hand for the appropriations bill signing.

To loud applause, Obama hailed the hate crimes measure in the bill as a step toward change to "help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray."

He cited the work of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and others "to make this day possible."

Later Wednesday, Obama stood with Shepard's parents and relatives of Byrd at a separate White House event honoring passage of the expanded hate crimes law.

Noting reports of 12,000 crimes based on sexual orientation over the past 10 years, Obama called the bill another step in the continuing struggle for protecting human rights.

"Because of the efforts of the folks in this room, particularly those family members standing behind me, the bell rings even louder now," Obama said. When he finished his remarks, he hugged the weeping relatives as the audience applauded.

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. However, Holder has said that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, not to prosecute speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.

Former President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure, but Obama brought a reversal of that policy to the White House.

When the bill won final congressional approval last week, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called the hate crimes measure "our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

President says 'hate crimes' plan unneeded
Advisers would recommend veto of discriminatory federal plan
May 2007

One day after WND reported Christian activists were seeking a pledge from the president to veto a "hate crimes" bill now approved by the U.S. House, the White House issued a statement saying the proposal is "unnecessary and constitutionally questionable."

The plan, H.R. 1592 by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is feared by opponents, as WND has reported, as a means to target Christians and to demolish both freedom of speech and religion in the United States. The House voted 237-180 for it today.

"The administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crimes based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin. However … if H.R. 1592 were presented to the president, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," the White House said.

The statement said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the violence addressed by the new federal crime defined in the bill, and many carry stricter penalties than the proposed language.
"State and local law enforcement agencies and courts have the capability to enforce those penalties and are doing so effectively. There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement…" the statement said.

It said the administration believes all violent crimes are unacceptable, regardless of the victims, and should be punished "firmly."

"I think it's a good sign, for now," said Michael Marcavage, of Repent America, an organization whose members include several Christians jailed for proclaiming their beliefs on public streets in Philadelphia.

Former White House insider Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint commentary, called it a "Thought Crimes" plan.

"It's called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But this bill is not about hate. It's not even about crime. It's about outlawing peaceful speech – speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong," he said.

Leaders at Concerned Women for America had asked for the veto promise.

"This bill would grant individuals who engaged in homosexual behavior ("sexual orientation") or those who cross-dress ("gender identity") preferential treatment over other citizens by elevating them to a specially protected class of victim," the organization said.

"The 14th Amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law, regardless of their chosen sexual behaviors. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals or cross-dresser do not receive equal protection under the law," the CWFA said.

"Victims are – and should be – treated equally in the justice system, regardless of their 'sexual orientation,'" said CWFA President Wendy Wright. "This 'hate crimes' bill would overturn this balance, creating second-class victims and a federal justice system that discriminates against grandmothers, children, women and men simply because they are heterosexual."

"Some say we need this law to prevent attacks on homosexuals. But we already have laws against assaults on people and property," Colson continued. "Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals…"

He noted, as WND earlier reported, in other locations, such as England, Sweden, Canada, and even Philadelphia, where similar laws have been approved, the "Thought Police" already have prosecuted Christians.

In Philadelphia, a grandmother was hauled to jail and threatened with 47 years in prison for proclaiming her Christianity on a public street, Repent America has reported.

One Philadelphia woman, Arlene Elshinnawy, 75, and grandmother of three, was holding a sign: "Truth is hate to those who hate the truth," before she was hauled off by police officers.

Faith2Action has launched a series of ads, which can be viewed at about the concerns.

The concerns also were echoed by Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth.

"This is really about getting the heavy hand of the federal government in promoting homosexuality as a 'civil right,'" he said.

Glen Lavy, of the Alliance Defense Fund, earlier wrote to Congress warning the plan would criminalize thoughts and beliefs.

"This is a terrible thing, to criminalize thought or emotion or even speech," Lavy told WND.

WND columnist Janet Folger earlier warned in a commentary called "Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail," that in New Hampshire, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 3 1/2 years was "enhanced" to 30 years because a robber shouted an anti-homosexual name at his victim.

Read more: President says 'hate crimes' plan unneeded


Pat Robertson Says Alzheimer's Makes Divorce OK

Sept. 15, 2011

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson stunned "700 Club" viewers Tuesday when he said divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's disease was justified.

Robertson, chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and former Republican presidential candidate, said he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on someone for divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's disease, calling Alzheimer's itself "a kind of death."

The remarks sparked outrage throughout religious and medical communities.

"I'm just flabbergasted," said Joel Hunter, senior pastor of the 15,000 member Northland Church in Orlando, Fla. "I just don't know how anyone who is reading Scripture or is even familiar with the traditional wedding vows can come out with a statement like that. Obviously, we can all rationalize the legitimacy for our own comfort that would somehow make it OK to divorce our spouse if circumstances become very different or inconvenient. ... That's almost universal, but there's just no way you can get out of what Jesus says about marriage."

Hunter, who is also a presidential appointee to an advisory council on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships, said Robertson's words could lead people to interpret typical marital woes as proof that the spouse they married is symbolically dead, and they are therefore free to move on.

"Obviously, you could do this for anything. ... My husband watches and plays video games, and so he has left the marriage and it's kind of like a death," he said. "It's not death, and so we can't start describing things as death that are really not death, and we have to stop trying to mischaracterize what Scripture says for our own convenience."

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said marriage is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman that calls for faithfulness in the best of times and the worst of times. Quoting Corinthians, Anderson said, "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. You can't quit your own body with Alzheimer's, so you shouldn't quit your husband's or wife's body either."

Doctors and social workers who work with families affected by Alzheimer's disease were similarly dismissive of Robertson's advice.

"To condone abandoning one's spouse in the throes of this mind-robbing illness is absurd," said Dr. Amanda Smith, medical director at the University of South Florida Health Alzheimer's Center in Tampa. "While Alzheimer's certainly affects the dynamic of relationships, marriage vows are taken in sickness and in health."

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease – a figure expected to rise sharply as baby boomers enter their older years. And about 80 percent of Alzheimer patients who live at home are cared for by family members.

Robertson's comments came after a viewer asked what advice he should give a friend who had been seeing another woman since his wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.

But the Rev. A.D. Baxter, a social worker with Cole Neuroscience Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, said care from a loved one is irreplaceable.

"When being cared for by a spouse, the love of that spouse is often what enables a person with Alzheimer's disease to continue on and not feel abandoned," said Baxter, adding that caregivers need support, too. "Many believe a true friend does not abandon in the time of need."

Alzheimer's Strains Relationships

The progressive symptoms of Alzheimer's can put stress on relationships, leaving caregivers to cope with the loss of intimacy and other aspects of adult romantic relationships, said Dr. Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine and medical ethics and assistant director of the Penn Memory Center in Philadelphia.

"There's no question that this is an issue," said Karlawish. "But to a spouse who's struggling with this kind of issue, I would want to say after the patient has left this world, you want be able to look back and say you treated that person with dignity."

Zaven Khachaturian, president of the Maryland-based Campaign to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease by 2020, said that Robertson's logic could have parents abandoning newborn babies.

"After all, a newborn presents to the caregiver exactly the same set of caregiver burden," said Khachaturian. "Both the infant and the person with Alzheimer's must be fed, cleansed, they are highly emotional, sleep a lot, they have wrinkled skins. If neglected, they will die. Does this mean caregivers must abandon newborn infants because it is not convenient to take care of them?"

New technologies are making it possible to diagnose Alzheimer's disease earlier, while patients have the ability to understand the road ahead of them.

"I think this highlights the need for couples and families to have discussions early in any illness, and preferably before illness strikes so that person's decisions and preferences are known and respected," said David Loewenstein, a clinical neuropsychologist at University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

Robertson's advice was for a male caregiver. But sometimes it's the patient who wants to start a new relationship.

"I have seen both caregivers and patients enter into new relationships during the course of dementia. How they choose to handle it is up to them. All parties dealing with this disease suffer to some extent and deserve to find happiness," said USF's Smith. "Ultimately, the decision for any couple to divorce, for any reason, is a private and difficult one."

Some couples stay married but form new relationships, too.

"There are many spouses who are devoted to the affected person with Alzheimer's, and yet form new relationships as they also care for their spouse," said Sandra Weintraub, professor of neurology and a neuropsychologist at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It's hard to negotiate living with Alzheimer's disease but dictating what's good and bad is not useful.

"Every person needs to make their own decisions and to consider all parties involved. I sincerely hope the good reverend never has to have Alzheimer's to experience his advice first hand."

Tim King, spokesman for the Christian organization Sojourners, said Robertson's controversial statement was encouraging in at least one regard.

"I'm actually encouraged to hear someone like Pat Robertson say we're not really in a position to judge another person," King said. "I can't imagine the difficulty that a spouse would have to see someone go through that type of change and transformation. ... I don't know anyone who is in the position to judge another type of person who is having to make those type of decisions. It should never be taking lightly; it should never be an easy decision. Dealing with marriage is serious and making a big decision like that should be hard."

A representative for Robertson's network told the Associated Press that there would be no further comment on the matter.

Pat Robertson’s Comments Threaten to Undermine Alzheimer’s Advocates’ Goals

by abc NEWS (Medical Unit)

Pat Robertson’s statement today that it’s OK, from his standpoint as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to divorce a spouse because he or she has Alzheimer’s disease has sent shock waves through the community of advocates, caregivers and those living with the disease.

“We were really surprised,” said Kate Meyer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “This is not any kind of trend we’ve seen. In fact, Alzheimer’s families really rally together around their loved ones.”

Robertson’s comments threaten to undermine one of the main goals of those who advocate on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients: To remove the stigma and shame so many still attach to the disease, to bring it out of the shadows and into the light of social compassion and support…like any other disease.

It is hard to imagine a religious leader condoning divorcing a spouse who has cancer, or MS, or Parkinson’s, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, or a severe stroke.

It is hard to imagine a discussion over whether the any of those diseases are essentially “death,” and thus justify divorce. No one, for example, suggests Michael J. Fox’s wife has a reason to leave him simply because he has a degerative disease that may well ultimately rob him of many of his faculties.

Perhaps the strongest refutation of Robertson is the living example of millions of couples who go on the hard journey of Alzheimer’s hand in hand, and who cannot imagine any other way, from Sandra Day O’Connor and her husband, John, to Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her husband, Sargent, to Nancy and Ronald Reagan — and to so many more.

I think of all the couples I’ve met facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s together, and I know Pat Robertson is wrong. About us.


Founder of CBN counsels that divorce due to disease is permissible

PHILADELPHIA - Repent America (RA) is calling for the immediate resignation of CBN Founder and President Pat Robertson who recently counseled on his television broadcast that a man can divorce his wife over a debilitating disease.

On Tuesday's edition of the 700 Club, which reaches an estimated 360 million
people worldwide, Robertson was presented with a question from a viewer that asked how they should advise a friend who had been having an affair after his wife began suffering with Alzheimer's Disease. Robertson responded, "I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and someone looking after her." He continued, "I certainly wouldn't put a guilt trip on you if you decided that you had to have companionship [because] you're lonely." When co-host Terry Meeuwsen inquired about spouses honoring their vows, Robertson replied that he knows that husbands and wives promise "til death do us part," but claimed, "This is a kind of death."

Robertson's statements are clearly in direct conflict with the Word of God, which declares, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. ... Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, commiteth adultery against her." (Mark 10:9,11) "[M]en ought to love their wives as their own bodies." (Ephesians 5:28)

"It is disgraceful that a minister would use the pulpit of international television to advise viewers that illness and loneliness are sufficient grounds for divorce," Repent America Director Michael Marcavage stated.

"Marriage is one of the cornerstones of any healthy society, and is under attack in this nation. Robertson's ungodly counsel adds to the further degradation of marriage, and is a direct assault on the word of God," he added. "Disposing of your spouse due to illness is something that you would have expected to have heard from the likes of Jack Kevorkian, not a minister of the Gospel. Marriage is in sickness and in health until death. There is no justification to dispose of your spouse because of disease. God hates divorce," Marcavage continued. "We call on Pat Robertson to publicly repent or resign his post as President and host of the 700 Club immediately," he concluded.

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them, according to knowledge, giving honor unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life..." - 1 Peter 3:7

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