Monday, September 22, 2008

Catholics Speak Out

In Times of Crisis

Last week, President Bush spoke to the nation in an effort to ease the fears of the American people who seem anxious about the financial crisis our country is facing. He really didn't say very much that could be deemed as comforting.

The newspapers across America all have headlines detailing accounts of a staggering economy. Reports verify seven hundred billion dollars of investor money has been wiped out in just one week.

You add to all of that the impact of the recent Hurricane Ike that hit the gulf coast and the train wreck in California. Unless you have endured one of these natural events, or had opportunity to visit the site of one of these devastated areas, it is nearly impossible to know what the folks who have been affected are going through.

If you are a Pastor, this weekend you will stand before your people who have been exposed to these very things. What do you say to them? How do you help them cope with their fears? I'm sure you have thought about this, but one of the major responsibilities is to comfort and guide your people.

The first thing you should counsel is not to panic. Our faith is in God, not in money. We have all been in these tight spots before and we will survive this challenge. Be patient.

The second thing we must do is encourage one another. Do not despair. We, as believers in Christ, have a marvelous opportunity in this time of crisis to show where our foundations are strongest.

Be wise. Make the best decisions you can to minimize your losses. Keep your credit card debt low. Save instead of spend and turn to trusted counsel.

Increase your faith practices. Don't miss church. Sing, worship, pray, read, and assemble. Be in places where you will feel protected, not threatened. "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5:18).

Remember that God knows your situation. He cares. Do not fret. Jesus says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (Matt. 6:27). Paul writes, "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way" (2 Thess. 3:16).

[H. B. London, Jr.]

Do You Feel Taken For Granted?

People have short memories. It doesn’t take long in ministry to realize this. One day you’re leading someone to Christ, the next day they’ve left for the new church down the street. One day someone says they loved the sermon, the next day they can’t remember what it was about. Short memories are nothing new.

The Israelites had a short memory when it came to Moses. Just three days after the Red Sea miracle – at the very first sign of trouble – they started doubting his leadership. We think we’ve got it rough? God used Moses to split a sea, and the Israelites forgot him. If that happened to Moses, it can happen to us.

But it doesn’t just happen in ministry, does it? We live in a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world. Children forget what their parents have done for them. Bosses forget what their employees have done for them. Spouses take each other for granted.

I read an article one time about a chief accountant for a millionaire. He was paid very well, but he committed suicide. His suicide note said: “I’m committing suicide because in 30 years I’ve never had one word of encouragement. I’m fed up.”

What do you do when you feel taken for granted? Moses gives us a great example to follow.

1. Don’t curse it. When Moses heard the Israelites grumble, it would have been natural to respond back in anger. Most of us would have done that. But Moses didn’t. Revenge just wasn’t an option. When people don’t appreciate you, choose not to strike back. Leave your frustration in God’s hands. When you let God settle the score, you are well represented. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse” (NASB). Instead of cursing those who forget you, speak positively about them.

2. Don’t rehearse it. Every time you review the hurt you feel when you’ve been taken for granted, it gets bigger. If somebody you’ve served selflessly criticizes you, it hurts. No doubt about it. But if you’re not careful, it’ll blow out of proportion in no time.

Notice that Moses never went back over the pain. He focused on the future. Rehearsing pain is a dangerous habit in ministry because soon you’re addicted to it. I’ve met some very bitter pastors who allowed experiences of their past to color their perception until they thought everybody was against them. You can’t allow that to happen.

3. Don’t nurse it. Don’t allow yourself to have a pity party. It’s OK to be angry. Anger is a legitimate response to hurt. But holding on to anger becomes sin. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry, and don’t give the devil a chance” (CEV). If you are a leader, you can expect to be misunderstood. It’s a fact of leadership. If you choose not to take the disappointment personally, you’ll avoid becoming cynical.

So, what should you do when you feel forgotten and taken for granted?

First, share your pain with God. Often we go to the wrong people with our pain. We go to the people who’ve mistreated us and remind them of their oversight. Instead of doing that, take your pain to God. He can take whatever you dish out to him.

Second, expect God to reverse your disappointment. God is the master of reversing hurts. Remember the story of Joseph in the Old Testament? Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Then in Genesis 50, 20 years later, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph had every reason to be cynical. His own family had sold him out. But he wasn’t cynical.

Moses had a similar experience. The people had been whining and complaining because they didn’t have water – and when they did get water, it was bitter. But where did God lead them after that? He led them to a land of abundant water. He reversed the situation.

Friend, I don’t know how you’ve been taken for granted in ministry. But I do know one thing. God has not forgotten you. He’s seen every act of service. He’s watched every time you’ve faithfully prepared a message. He has walked into the room of the dying person with you. He’s listened as you’ve prayed for the direction of your church. He’s seen your acts of service. Others may take you for granted. But God doesn’t.

Never forget that.

[Rick Warren]

News & Views

Video - "Pastor's Edition" by Pastor Rick Warren.

Today's Prayer

Dear Father,

I come to you today in the name of Jesus, asking for your mercy and help for parents of adolescents today. This is always a trying time. I pray that these parents will have all the patience, love, wisdom, knowledge, and love that is needed to properly parent children at this stage of life.

The children are going through so many changes, emotionally and physically, that they need understanding and guidance, family time and worship time, and spiritual growth to ground them as they begin to mature into young adults. Please provide what is needed for these parents and their children to love and support one another through the days at hand. Bless them, Lord, as they seek your will for their lives. And anoint these parents to be all that you would have them be in nurturing your children.

Thank you, so much.

In the Savior's name I pray, amen.

Today Is The First Day of Fall

The National Weather Service said the autumnal equinox or autumn officially arrives today at 10:44 a.m. (CDT).

Baptist Bookstores Pull Magazine Featuring Female Pastors

Over 100 Christian bookstores run by the Southern Baptist Convention have pulled from their shelves this month's issue of Gospel Today Magazine, which features a cover story about female pastors.

The Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine, an urban publication with a circulation of nearly a quarter of a million, was pulled this from Lifeway Christian Bookstores for featuring a cover story about female pastors.

Customers to Lifeway Christian Bookstores, located mostly in the Bible Belt with a handful of locations along the West Coast, will now have to request to buy the Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine, which have been placed behind the stores' counters.

The front cover of the latest issue of Gospel Today, an urban publication with a circulation of nearly a quarter of a million, features five smiling female pastors and was titled "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Female Pastors." In the cover story, the five preachers talk about their roles and responsibilities, struggles and successes.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest Christian denomination, officially opposes females serving as pastors. In 2000, the denomination overwhelmingly adopted a revised statement of faith that said the pastoral role should be restricted to men.

"We have removed the September/October issue of Gospel Today from our shelves because the cover story, featuring female pastors, clearly advocates a position contrary to our denomination's statement of faith, the Baptist Faith & Message," Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, told The Christian Post.

The Baptist Faith and Message declares that “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”

Teresa Hairston, the magazine's publisher, could not be reached for comment. But according to reports by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press, Hairston said she was just reporting on an emerging trend in churches, and not trying to promote women pastors.

"They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter," said Hairston, according to AP. "Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won't see it displayed."

Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also weighed in the topic of women serving in leadership roles in his recent commentary on women and the election. He rejected misunderstandings that the denomination wants women to be "subservient" to men, citing the SBC's confession of faith that states woman and man are "equal worth before God." But he drew from teachings in the New Testament to support the Southern Baptist position on women pastors. In 1 Timothy 2:12, "the Apostle Paul instructs that 'a woman is not to usurp authority over the man,'" explained Land.

"Most Southern Baptists have understood this to mean that women are not to be pastors of local churches, since the pastoral office is a position of authority," he said.

Although the denomination doesn't agree with women serving as pastors, said Land, it does not oppose women serving in leadership roles in public service, such as the vice presidency.

"For Baptists, who make a strict distinction between the local church congregation and other denominational or parachurch ministries, such a statement would not preclude women 'gifted for service' from serving in leadership positions in the denomination as opposed to the local church."

On the Web: The Sept./Oct. issue of Gospel Today Magazine at

[By Katherine T. Phan - Christian Post Reporter]

Palin-God Cartoon "Despicable," Says Pentecostal Leader

The leader of the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination denounced a cartoon that mocks Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Pentecostalism, and Christianity as “despicable.”

“The cartoon is despicable,” decried Assemblies of God’s chief executive officer, George O. Wood, in a statement Friday. “Millions of Christians today follow the example of first century Christians who prayed in other tongues.

“The Washington Post would not think of printing a cartoon that mocked members of the Muslim or Jewish faiths,” he charged. “It should be ashamed.”

In the cartoon, posted online Sept. 9, Palin is illustrated talking on the phone at a podium in an incomprehensible language. Republican vice presidential nominee John McCain stands near Palin and says with a grin, “She’s a Pentecostal and speaks in tongues, and only God can understand what she’s saying. But it gives my campaign a direct line to the Almighty.”

The next drawing shows “God” in heaven holding a phone saying to an angel, “Peter. What’s wrong with this phone? All I can hear is some dam’ right wing politician spouting gibberish!”

AG superintendent Wood criticized the political cartoon for not only revealing the cartoonist’s lack of understanding of Pentecostal beliefs, but of God.

The cartoonist portrayed God as cranky, befuddled, a user of profanity and not omniscient.
“Since God is multi-lingual, I'm sure He doesn't have problems understanding any prayers – whether they are articulated in a known or unknown language,” Wood said. “He looks for prayers that come from the heart."

Furthermore, the Pentecostal leader noted that Palin, to his knowledge, has never said she prays in tongues.

Palin was raised in a Pentecostal church and attended one until six years ago, when she and her family switched to a non-denominational evangelical church. She now identifies herself only as Christian, and a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign says Palin does not consider herself Pentecostal.

Still, the Republican vice presidential candidate and her ties with Pentecostalism have been subjected to scrutiny and commentary by secular reporters, who mainly portray the religious body as peculiar and unconventional.

According to representative Deborah Howell, received some 350 complaints from readers about the cartoon by Pat Oliphant, which they said lampooned their faith.

"Readers were right to complain," she said, according to AG News, the news service of the 5 million-member Assemblies of God. "I will deal with political cartooning in another column."

She also noted that Oliphant’s cartoons are automatically posted on the site without anyone editing or reviewing the material prior to its posting.

[By Michelle A. Vu - Christian Post Reporter]