Monday, September 27, 2010

What is happening to clergy in America?

It seems today that the church and its leaders are experiencing a genuine and increasing attack by Satan. Why is this? It might be due to stress or burnout in the lives of clergy, or it could just be carelessness. Whatever it is, it is sin and it must be addressed. What we have found most often is that moral or ethical failure can be partially categorized in three phrases.
  1. A lack of accountability and too much power.
  2. Unresolved conflict at home.
  3. Limited time spent along with God.
Failure to address any one of these three challenges can lead to great sorrow and ministerial failure.

[H.B. London]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pastor Eddie Long Denies Accusations

The famed pastor of a Georgia megachurch said Sunday that he will fight allegations that he lured young men into sexual relationships, stressing that he’d be back to lead the church the next week.

Addressing a New Birth Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary packed with thousands, Bishop Eddie Long declined to discuss specifics of lawsuits filed against him - or flatly deny the accusations. But he drew thunderous applause when he told his church that while he’s not perfect, the picture painted by the allegations is far from accurate.

Long told the crowd that his lawyers had advised him not to “try this case in the media.” While the remarks were short on details of the legal case, Bishop spoke at length about enduring painful situations.

“We are all subject to face distasteful and painful sitauations. Bishop Long, Eddie Long - you can put your name in that blank - will have some bad situations,” he said. “The righteous face painful situations with a determined expectancy. We are not exempt from pain, but He promises to deliver us out of our pain.”

Long is scheduled to speak again at a 10 a.m. news conference and 11 a.m. service.

About 100 people waited at the doors of the church more than an hour before the first service. Some held signs of support, while others prayed for their embattled leader. A small group sang the hymn “White as Snow” while outside.

Members in their seats clapped and swayed as the service began around 8 a.m., with several people with microphones singing on stage. Later in the service, hundreds began dancing and chanting, “Jesus, Jesus.” A small group of young people held Apple iPads high over their heads, with the screens scrolling white letters against a black background reading, “It’s time to praise him.”

Long took the stage to loud applause from the crowd.

The lawsuits claim Long - who is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage - lured the four into sexual relationships with gifts including cars, cash and travel.

Long, a married father of four, previously denied the allegations through his lawyer but has not spoken publicly about them.

Over the past 20 years, Long became one of the most powerful independent church leaders in the country. He led New Birth as it grew from a suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 to a 25,000-member powerhouse with a $50 million cathedral and a roster of parishioners that includes athletes, entertainers and politicians.

He flashed his prosperity by wearing diamonds and platinum jewelry, while building strong political ties and a close relationship with the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The 2006 funeral for King's widow, Coretta Scott King, was held at New Birth. Their daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, is also a pastor at Long’s church.

Bernice King took the stage at the first of Sunday’s services.

Three of the young men who filed lawsuits this week live in Georgia, while the other was a member of a satellite church in Charlotte, N.C., run by Long.

Two of the plaintiffs were once members of a youth program called the LongFellows Youth Academy, which teaches teenage boys lessons on financial discipline and sexual control. In their lawsuits, the men say Long used the program to groom them for sexual relationships and lured them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash.

The other two plaintiffs make similar claims that Long served as a mentor, gave them gifts, then convinced them to engage in sexual acts.

[AOL News]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pastors in the Chattanooga Area

J103 radio is hosting a 4 state wide pastor breakfast at the Chattanooga Convention Center on October 12th from 7am to 10am. This is a total free morning set aside to show appreciation to shepherds in the J103 listening area who faithfully devote their lives to Kingdom building.

Click on the link below to RSVP. Each church can have up to 4 represent at the breakfast.

Clark Thompson
Church & Ministry Relations Director
J103-Partners for Christian Media
423-424-1291 (office)
423-580-6058 (cell)
423-892-1633 (fax)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you hope your co-workers will think about you after you've transitioned to another job or into retirement?
  • What would you like your spouse to say at your funeral?
  • What legacy do you want to leave your children?
  • How would you want your church or community to describe your involvement in it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Koran Burning: How Dare the Muslim World Lecture America on Religious Tolerance

Let us first be clear on one point lest there be any doubt. The plan to burn copies of the Koran by Pastor Terry Jones in Florida was immature, insensitive, crass, and vulgar, and is to be condemned by all right thinking people.

However for significant parts of the Muslim world to react as it has – and no doubt will continue to do if the burning goes ahead – is the grossest hypocrisy known to man.

We have had Pakistan attempting to get Interpol to stop the burning, and the Iraqi Prime Minister and the Indonesian President have called on President Obama to ban the burning.

Meanwhile protesters in Afghanistan and Pakistan have already taken to the streets with their chants of "Death to America!" and have, perhaps ironically, taken to burning U.S. flags and effigies.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that the burning of the Koran would "be used as a pretext by extremists for more killings and retaliatory killing," while Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the burning would jeopardize "international peace and harmony."

One might think that they were talking about a conspiracy to launch a terror attack or perhaps a plan to invade Iran or some other unsavory regime. But no, they are talking about the actions of around 50 people at a dubious church in Florida who are bizarrely planning to show their love for their neighbor by burning that neighbor’s holy book.

Mr. Jones defended his actions saying, "We are burning the book. We are not killing someone. We are not murdering people."

This is perfectly true, but the sad fact of the matter is that when a crazy Christian decides to burn books, crazy Muslims (who, it has to be said, seem to be rather more numerous) decide to burn people. This, no doubt, is why so many people are begging him not to go ahead with his grotesque stunt.

This is precisely why the Muslim world has absolutely no right to ask Obama to deprive a U.S. citizen of his First Amendment rights – even if he chooses to use that right to offend others. Rather they should be preventing their own citizens from performing much worse acts.

In Iraq, an ancient and once-numerous Christian community has all but disappeared since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Those who have survived being murdered by Islamic militants have more often than not decided to leave for Europe or the U.S., where it is considerably safer.

In Pakistan, where the government has complained the loudest about the Koran burning, Christians are often not so fortunate as to be able to just leave. Generally among the poorest in society, they are often treated as sub-humans by the more ruthless of their Muslim neighbors, who are often their employers.

A Pakistani Christian may find that his Muslim employers decide not to pay the wages with which he supports his family. In extreme cases, if he complains, he will be murdered by his employers for his insolence.

The abduction and rape of Christian girls in Pakistan is also becoming increasingly common, with one 12-year-old being raped by seven or eight students from a madrassa in Rawalpindi who wanted to "teach these Christians a lesson." When the father of another girl of 16 suffered a similar fate (this time at gunpoint), he was kidnapped and tortured for reporting the crime. This all in the last couple of months and far from unusual but, unlike Mr. Jones, they did not get in the papers

If any country is to lecture America on the religious tolerance of its citizens, it should not be Pakistan, whose own authorities often take their time when dealing with such complaints and sometimes don't act at all until the local population protests in large numbers.

Egypt, which has also been warning about the Koran burning, faces similar – although not quite as severe – problems to Pakistan, while in Indonesia extremists content themselves just with disrupting the services of other religions and defacing churches.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to many of Islam's holiest sites, has been relatively quiet on the matter. Why? Perhaps because while it is well known the country regularly confiscates Bibles from visitors, it is perhaps less well known that the regime has been accused of shredding the Bibles, as presumably they have no other use for them.

Despite all this, and the fact that citizens of these countries are often found to be plotting terrorist attacks (does this not threaten "international peace and harmony," Mr. Malik?), such countries presume to tell Americans how to behave. Are they serious? We should be telling them.

[by William Dove, The Christian Post]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Simple Praying

Remember when the Psalmist David wrote, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth" (Ps. 86:11)? He was probably referring to the things he learned both through experience and meditation after he had prayed. He seemed to keep asking God to "Hear my prayer."

I learn a lot through my private prayer life, especially when I can just grow quiet and talk to the Father as a son would talk. Do you? It's after the prayer, when I reflect on our conversation, that I most often "hear" from God or, at least, find direction.

When I pray, I find myself somewhat removed from the norm of my everyday activity. All formality aside, I just communicate my feelings and often my frustration. In the end, I don't ask for much. I just talk and, then, when it is over (my part), I listen.

There were a lot of years in which I was guided by the "A-C-T-S" formula for praying. But as the years have passed, my time with the Lord is less emotional, not as animated, and much more conversational. I still wonder why we make such a "show" of prayer in public and why we need to pray so predictably.

I read again today Matthew, chapter 6, and our Lord's instruction regarding simple prayer. Remember what He said before He taught them how to pray?

"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. Here's what I want you to do: find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace" (Matt. 6:6 — The Message).

I find that the wording of Matthew 6:6 in The Message says it the way I need to hear it. It will say about the same in whatever Bible you read. Keep it simple!

[by H.B. London]

Prayers for Spiritual Awakening Marked 9/11 Anniversary

Christians nationwide marked the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by gathering at their county courthouses to pray for God's mercy and a spiritual awakening in the U.S.

The third annual Cry Out America attracted participants from every state and more than 830 counties. Grassroots supporters prayed from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at their county seats, repenting and crying out for revival in their regions.

"The American church is being called to experience and lead a contemporary awakening so that new generations of Americans can know the power of Christ's love and this nation can be preserved," said the Rev. Billy Wilson, a Pentecostal minister and executive director of the Awakening America Alliance, which is sponsoring Cry Out America.

In Washington, D.C., a cross-section of Christian leaders—including Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Global Day of Prayer U.S. coordinator Bob Bakke—also prayed for the nation as they gathered at the Pentagon for a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the 3,000 victims of 2001 attack.

Wilson believes Sept. 11 was a prophetic sign of what was coming in the 21st century—including the collapse of structures thought to last for generations, the encroachment of non-Christian religions and terrorist acts that incite fear.

Nine years later "we see that replicated over and over in our nation," he said, pointing to bank failures in recent years, the spread of Islam in the U.S. and random shootings on college campuses.

"In many ways, 9/11 was just a loud prophetic sign, and we feel like it's very appropriate on that day to come before God to say in the 21st century, in this kind of environment-with the encroachment of other religions, an environment of fear and terrorism, an environment of collapse and uncertainty - that we need Jesus more than ever in America," he said. "We united together to cry out for that help and for that covering over our nation and, of course, for a new spiritual awakening."

In a prayer guide posted on its website, the alliance listed 20 indicators of spiritual awakening such as increased conversions and baptisms, a stronger emphasis on prayer and fasting, healthier marriages, and a greater Christian influence in media, politics and other cultural spheres.

Wilson believes the church is "on the precipice of seeing a fresh breakthrough." He says he's already seeing signs of awakening, including more talk of the need for spiritual renewal, unprecedented participation in his group's annual 21-day fast in January, and a growing emphasis on church planting and evangelism.

"Obviously the Holy Spirit is stirring the nation toward a new awakening," he said. "What will push us over the edge will be united intercession and this deep hunger that drives us to go beyond where we've ever been before with the Lord. And that's one of the things we hope Cry Out America on 9/11 demonstrates — the spiritual hunger in the American church and our desperation for God's help."

The Awakening America Alliance mobilizes prayer for the U.S. and is partnered with such ministries as the Assemblies of God, Aglow International, Youth With a Mission, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Intercessors for America.

[by Adrienne S. Gaines, Chrisma News Online]

2 killed in Afghan anti-Quran-burning protest

KABUL, Afghanistan – Two protesters died and four were injured as Afghans protested for a third day Sunday against a plan by an American pastor to burn copies of the Islamic holy book, despite his decision to call off the action.

Mohammad Rahim Amin, chief of the Baraki Barak district in eastern Logar province, said the deaths and injuries occurred when Afghan soldiers opened fire on hundreds of protesters who were trying to storm the local government headquarters.

During recent protests against the Quran burning, Afghans have regularly targeted the pro-Western government.

Terry Jones, pastor of a small Florida church, said Saturday that "we feel that God is telling us to stop" the Quran burning, which was to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

The plan to burn the Quran stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide.
The protesters in Logar chanted "Death to America" and burned tires, attacked several shops and set election campaign posters on fire, Amin said.

"I can say for sure that this was the work of the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan who are trying to use any opportunity to disrupt the security situation" in the country, Amin said.

In a country where most people have limited access to newspapers, television and the Internet, many Afghans seemed unaware of Jones' decision to call off the Quran burning.

Meanwhile, a Taliban commander who planned rocket attacks on polling stations during elections next week and four other insurgents were killed in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said Sunday.

The military alliance said NATO and Afghan forces killed the five insurgents Saturday night in a village compound in the eastern Nangarhar province. The insurgents were killed after they "displayed hostile intent" as the forces moved in on the compound, it said in a statement.

It said intelligence reports indicated the Taliban commander was planning to conduct rocket attacks on voting centers during the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections. The Taliban has vowed to target polling stations and warned Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.
The government and its Western allies hope the elections for the lower house of parliament will help consolidate the country's fragile democracy, leading to the withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 NATO-led foreign troops in the country. But many Afghans and foreign observers fear the vote could turn bloody if the Taliban carries out its threats.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Two Pentecostal Denominations Speak Out

Today, the Church of God of Prophecy and the Church of God, both with International Offices in Cleveland, Tennessee, released a large ad to the media taking a position on the controversial Koran burning. Church of God of Prophecy General Overseer Randall Howard, and Church of God General Overseer Raymond Culpepper released the Ad and statements today.

“Most of you are no doubt aware of the congregation in Gainesville, Florida which recently announced their intentions to publicly burn a copy of the Muslim book, the Koran. The activity, scheduled for September 11, has drawn international attention and been the subject of numerous op-ed columns, articles and forums across all spectrums of religious beliefs.”

“Neither the Church of God of Prophecy nor the Church of God ordinarily take a public stand on issues that cross our culture on a daily basis. However, on occasion, some events or actions generate an inordinate amount of questions, which beckon a statement, or at least an opinion, from this movement. This is particularly the case when the issue at hand is not so crystal clear.”

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, the independent church which planned the action, has withdrawn their intentions and will now not burn the Koran on September 11. Prior to the announcement, the Church of God of Prophecy and the Church of God had jointly purchased a full-page advertisement in the Cleveland Daily Banner and the Chattanooga Times Free Press which simply stated, “Burning the Koran does not exalt Jesus Christ.” The ad included information regarding the Church of God and the Church of God of Prophecy which partnered on the advertisement.

“Although we had the option to cancel it (the ad), I believe the ad gives the Church of God and the Church of God of Prophecy the opportunity to represent Jesus Christ and sends a message that we are engaged in and concerned about our society," Culpepper said.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today's Quote

"Leadership develops daily, not in a day." - John Maxwell

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moving Forward with Pioneer Vision

Pioneers are individuals who brave fierce obstacles to enter new territory and prepare paths for others to follow, and "Aunt Mollie," as she was affectionately known, was truly a pioneer. At 105, she was the oldest Christian I knew. She was also the oldest Pentecostal in my hometown.

Pioneer Passion

One of the first people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in the area where my family and I lived, Aunt Mollie was a Pentecostal pioneer who blazed the trail for multitudes that followed. Eighty years later she was still overflowing with zeal for the Lord and a passion for souls. She spent countless hours in intercessory prayer and constantly told others about Jesus.

What was the secret to Aunt Mollie's maintaining her pioneer vision and press-forward mind-set, even at her advanced age? I have no doubt that it was because she constantly walked in a fresh encounter with God.

At a time when many had grown cold in their experience with God and had settled for tradition rather than relationship, one woman could not forget her initial encounter with God in a meeting under a brush arbor. Indeed, it was so powerful she could not be content to let it end there. She frequently explained that God continually drew her nearer to Himself and revealed even greater truths and understanding as she walked obediently before Him.

Although she most humbly submitted herself to the godly counsel of those over her in the Lord, Aunt Mollie was not governed by the philosophies of individuals. Rather, she searched the Word, devoted herself to prayer, and sought to be led by the Holy Spirit in all her actions.

Revering the Past

We are right to look back on our heritage with genuine respect and admiration for the profound way those before us served one another in love. But we must not, we dare not, fall into the trap of attempting to live in the blessings of yesterday.

The Holy Spirit directs men and women now just as He has in the past, and He wills that men and women continue to move forward in the freshness of His Spirit--a freshness that produces clean hearts and equips the church to reach the harvest.

At the turn of the century when R. G. Spurling organized numerous churches in the mountainous regions of North Carolina and Tennessee, he was moving against the current of organized religion's lethargic creeds and the status quo ideology of many of his neighbors. He pressed forward and broke new ground as directed by the Holy Spirit.

Insisting on the importance of fellowship within a local congregation and the New Testament as his only rule of faith and practice, Spurling was as a voice on the mountainside crying for a revival of unity and love within the Body. His vision included returning to the basics of the Bible and maintaining a personal relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit used Spurling in carrying out His plan to move the church forward in spiritual liberty and truth--much like the Anabaptists, martin Luther, John Wesley, and others before him. Had Spurling felt less passionately about his God-ordained mission, the Christian Union, which gave birth to the Church of God, probably never would have been established.

God found in Spurling an obedient servant; consequently, other men and women received the vision and continued to press forward against the tendency to exchange relationship for inert religion.

Appropriating the Example

Learning from the powerful examples of the past, the church must continue to move forward with the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ until all have heard the wonderful story of His grace. Just as the pioneering R. G. Spurling did for his generation more than 100 years ago, it is imperative that the church move beyond the focus of yesterday's tradition and align our sights on Christ.

As we enter a new millennium, it is necessary for us to gain an appreciation for diversity in all areas of ministry--which may not look or sound exactly as it did yesterday. But neither did it at the beginning of this century when our forebears embraced holiness and Pentecostalism. neither did it when the Charismatic renewal spread throughout the world during the 1960s.

It is evident, however, that each brought renewal to the body of Christ, and together they are now the fastest-growing force within Christianity. Sincere seekers must never be satisfied with tradition that has become stale, for it is in the freshness of God's Spirit that transformation is accomplished and the Great Commission fulfilled.

We cannot afford to remain still and become lost in this era of constant change. By reaffirming our dependency on God, obedience to the Word, consecrated devotion, Spirit-led living and earnest prayer, the body of believers known as the Church of God must rise to the task that lies ahead.

Through proper training, godly counsel, and walking in unity and love, the ministry (both laity and clergy) can be better prepared to overcome any physical or spiritual obstacle that would hinder the work of the Lord.

Aunt Mollie has since passed on to her eternal reward, but she left a powerful testimony and example for others. The Church of God, to which she was devoted, can gain from her testimony.

A Fresh Encounter

It is good for the Church of God to reflect on its past blessings, but past blessings will not sustain us! We must be thankful for the powerful way God has revealed Himself to us in the past while moving forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. Like the pioneering vision that birthed our fellowship and has victoriously guided us until now, we must maintain the compelling force to move forward.

Our future ministry of effectively winning souls to Christ depends on the decisions we make today. We must not allow ourselves to become sidetracked in the routines of yesterday or by debating nonessential issues. Rather, let us maintain a movement mentality, walking in a fresh refilling of God's Spirit and pressing forward with the goal of winning the world for Jesus Christ.

(Editor's note: Louis F. Morgan has a keen appreciation for the church's heritage while welcoming the refreshing winds of change brought by the Holy Spirit today as he serves as archivist at the church's Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center.)

[by Louis F. Morgan - Published in the September 2000 issue of the Church of God Evangel]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Oval Office Rug Gets Quote Wrong

AOL News (Sept. 5) – When President Barack Obama ponders big policy decisions, he might find inspiration from some of his favorite quotations inscribed on a new rug in the Oval Office.

The rug’s perimeter is lined with sayings from Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt. It also has a quote that Obama has described as his favorite from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only it turns out – after the rug has already be sewn and laid down – that it's been incorrectly attributed to King.

A saying on a new rug in the Oval Office is attributed to Martin Luther King Jr., but the quote actually came from an abolitionist minister from Massachusetts.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," is a phrase the civil rights leader used regularly. Obama even referred to it in his election victory speech in Chicago on Nov. 5, 2008.

But it turns out that whenever King used the phrase, he was actually echoing another speaker a century before him, whom he admired: the Massachusetts minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker, who in 1853 said, "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. ... But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice."

The quote has often been attributed to King, but it seems Obama, his biographer David Remnick and none of the White House decorators bothered to look into its historic origins or even do a quick search on Wikipedia – which has an entry listing Parker is the original author of the phrase.

The mistake was first reported by The Washington Post, and reporters raised it with White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton on Saturday. Burton stood by the attribution to King, saying that the civil rights leader uttered those exact words on Sept. 2, 1957, according to CNN.

Another of the quotes on the new Oval Office rug is from Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address, in which the U.S. president referred to a "government of the people, by the people and for the people." It turns out that Lincoln, too, was paraphrasing Parker, who wrote in 1850 that a democracy is "a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people."

[by Lauren Frayer - AOL News and Associated Press]

Most Common Sins of a Church Leader

  1. Pride. Pontification is an easy sin. We want to be seen as wise and so we use our bully pulpit to "lead" even if we don't have a clue what we are doing.
  2. Laziness. Using the same material each year and expecting it to be fresh and valuable as the day it was thought up. And, pretending to be busy just for the sake of being busy.
  3. Defensiveness. Every critical statement made by colleagues isn't the result of their psychopathology. Leaders mess up and ought to be able to admit it.
  4. Jealousy. We tear down our more prolific/famous colleagues because it makes us feel less of a failure.

Touch Not Mine Anointed

“He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, ‘Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.’” (Psalms 105:14-15 KJV).

As a life-long conservative Pentecostal churchman, this scripture was/is quoted to me repeatedly. It is always used in the context of; do not question nor speak against those “over” us in the Lord, regardless of what they are doing or how they are doing it. In a system called “Theocracy,” you would have thought the Bible said, “Touch not mine appointed.” However, is everyone that has been appointed by man, been anointed by God? Are they today?

There is a danger of dishonoring God’s anointed people. The Lord honors those who serve Him. When we honor Him , He will honor us. The Lord honors those who love Him with all their heart. The Lord honors those who have faced shame and humiliation in their lives. He comforts them with a double blessing. He will honor us in the presence of our enemies. When we are humble and walk in the fear of the Lord, He will honor us.

If you believe in the Priesthood of all believers, isn’t every Christian anointed? Doesn’t that make all of us God’s anointed? The Christos was the “anointed one,” and Christians are likewise anointed. What about dishonoring them? The whole act of the chrism underscored this simple fact. And why not: if Jesus Christ dwells in us and what we do and have in this life that is of value is from and of God, then we too are partakers in his anointing.

“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 3:14 KJV).

“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2 KJV).

The Lord wants us to honor His messengers. When we welcome and honor His servants (that’s right, Jesus came to teach servant-leadership), we honor the Lord Himself. The Lord will surely reward us for all that we have done for His people. We must be careful not to dishonor or mistreat the Lord’s servants as the Lord will be displeased by that and we may have to face painful consequences for dishonoring His anointed messengers.

The problem arises when the text is used to prevent proper observation of what is anointed and what is not. Even God’s peasants can tell when red flags appear. When a leader speaks one way one day and another way tomorrow, when church business is done in secret (darkness), when politics rule the business of the church, when all measurements show decline, when leadership is imposed thru fear and intimidation, it is time for a closer look at the “anointed” one.

If you have watched Christian television recently, you may have noticed a very well known preacher, usually under attack for financial dealings or moral failure, who invokes this verse to stop any kind of criticism or action against him or her. Since their ministry is successful, they are “anointed,” with the implication that we aren’t and thus have no right to question or criticize what they are doing. How do we know that this or that minister is a leader, and thus deserves some kind of “special treatment?” This goes to the whole problem of authority in the church.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV)

There is no New Testament support to the idea that anointed people are beyond reproof on either side of eternity.

The sooner we get back to the Biblical concept that the anointing is the common property of all those called by the name of Christ, the happier we will all be and the more fruitful the ministry of the church will become.

How Safe Is Your Church?

When it comes to risk management, talk is a great place to start, but action is required. Churches need background check programs to protect the at-risk members. Ministry leaders need to advocate for safety in services that are provided to children, youth, and the elderly.

Here’s a plan to get started. Follow this checklist to make sure all ministry groups are compliant with basic safety practices:
  1. 1. Conduct a criminal background check on all employees and volunteers who work with children and youth. Start with the staff and ministry leaders, then screen all your volunteers. Also be sure to rescreen workers with a consistent schedule that is determined by your leadership. The International Foursquare Church has implemented a policy that states their churches need to conduct background checks annually.
  2. Beyond the criminal background check, always verify prospective employee and volunteer references. Ask for this information on an application and follow-up through phone calls or send out a reference survey. It can be mailed to each person listed as a reference or used as a phone interview tool.
  3. Conduct personal interviews with each ministry worker annually. Many churches interview workers to make a placement decision but don’t have continued contact during their term of service. Set up a timeline to touch base with workers to update any life issues that may impact their service.
  4. Provide continuing training for children’s and youth ministry workers. Training is the key to a safe ministry environment. Someone once said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” There is no replacement when it comes to making sure your workers know what to do-and how to do it.
  5. Regularly review written child-abuse-prevention policies and background check programs. Safety procedures are worthless if they’re not taught and re-taught on a continuing basis. Make sure all new volunteers are aware of the policies and procedures as a part of their orientation. Retrain often as a part of your continuing education efforts.
  6. Update church background check policies as needed. A policy is only effective when it’s current and applicable. Local and state laws constantly change, so you’ll need to keep up with the practices that reflect what other child-care providers are doing in your community.

Labor Day Weekend

Monday is Labor Day. It’s a day to commemorate the “unofficial” end of Summer, a beginning of another school year, and if you’ve got a parade, a picnic or a festival lined up for Monday- Hooray! It is, also, a national holiday to celebrate the American worker. The weekend’s celebration of Labor Day is, no doubt, ironic for some; frustrating for many. For millions, it’s a day just like any other, with no job from which to receive this paid holiday, and few opportunities looming on the horizon. Indeed, countless workers today, while grateful for the job they have, still suffer stress and worry about the security of their employment. No one is unaware of the challenging times our country faces, with rumors rumbling of what’s called a “double-dip recession,” and an economic turndown that has seen a jobless rate nearing 10% in some areas of the country, and well past that figure in other parts. Millions of Americans are still without jobs, and employment forecasters don’t see a quick return to previous employment levels for even more years to come. The economy shows signs of a slow repair, only to show another month marked by sluggishness. Wow. What’s to celebrate? Plenty. We are a country created and supported by visionary leaders and citizens, and a country populated today by people who still believe in, and work to maintain, those core principles. This Labor Day may hold its share of irony, but I want to put my hope in a future where there is great reason for all to celebrate “the American worker” in years to come.

So how, exactly, did we see the beginning of Labor Day? The U.S. Department of Labor provides this history:

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday – a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.

And it is appropriate to hold out great hope that if you are searching for a job this Labor Day, you’ll be celebrating your status as an American worker long before our next Labor Day.

Have a joyous, and safe, Labor Day holiday weekend.