Todd Friel discusses how to talk to youth about virginity and what to say if they fail.
And then, as they stood with folded wings, there was a voice from above the dome over their heads. Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne, sky-blue like a sapphire, with a humanlike figure towering above the throne. From what I could see, from the waist up he looked like burnished bronze and from the waist down like a blazing fire. Brightness everywhere! The way a rainbow springs out of the sky on a rainy day—that’s what it was like. It turned out to be the Glory of God!
When I saw all this, I fell to my knees, my face to the ground. Then I heard a voice. Ezekiel 1:26-28
photo credit: Joel, taken at Easter Sunrise service
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17
For more info on “Jesus Juking”, here ya go.
I think Matthew Paul Turner’s posted an appropriate response to DeYoung’s tweet:
Friends, these Ebola/sin/theology comparisons really need to stop. Coming from privileged American pastors who are tweeting on their smart phones from the safety of their homes, these poorly chosen and untimely words are highly insensitive to the very real threat that Ebola poses in numerous East African nations. It’s very easy to make broad theological statements about Jesus and puns about the CDC while living in a country where Ebola isn’t killing people every single day.
Meanwhile, a North Carolina pastor, Ron Baity, is blaming saying Ebola is a result of same-sex marriages in the article, NC pastor comes unglued over coming gay weddings: ‘You think Ebola is bad now, just wait!’, and also refers to it as a sign of the End Times.
Baptist pastor is warning that God will escalate the Ebola crisis when North Carolina begins performing same-sex marriages.
“You think Ebola is bad now, just wait. If it’s not that, it’s going to be something else. My friends, I want you to understand, you can’t thumb your nose at God, and God turn his head away without God getting your attention.”
Popular Pastor John Hagee is another Christian leader using the Ebola crisis to promote his agenda. In this article, John Hagee: Ebola is God’s punishment for Obama ‘dividing Jerusalem’, we read of Obama being responsible for the problems in Jerusalem:
Citing the Book of Joel, the televangelist took to Tuesday’s broadcast of the “Hagee Hotline” to tell listeners that “our president is dead set on dividing Jerusalem. God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,” according to the left-leaning Right Wing Watch.
“There are grounds to say that judgment has already begun, because he, the president, has been fighting to divide Jerusalem for years now,” Hagee said in a YouTube video posted by Right Wing Watch.
What this poem really means, I do not know, but here it is:
Today a thousand dead. And more
To die. A common ache, like flu,
Then nausea, a fever-soar,
A hopeless clinic interview:
“There’s nothing we can do.”
The bleeding has no bias. These:
A child, a chief, a friend, a nurse,
Liberian, and Leonese,
From Guinea, Texas, taste the curse—
And kindness, from the Purse.
Samaritans, six thousand miles
From home and care, subdue their fears,
And wonder if a sneeze defiles,
Or if a healthy fluid clears
The curse. Perhaps their tears.
But now two treasured ones, struck down,
Contagious still with death—and love—
Fly back to us, our joy, our crown,
A touch of grace, a gentle dove,
Yet through a plastic glove.
While in our land we see today
Another virus spreading, dumped,
More deadly, in the soul. They say,
“Why bring them home?” Though you be stumped,
This grace will not be trumped.
John Piper (Source)
In his podcast: More Deadly than Ebola, by R.C. Sproul, Jr., Sproul, Jr. discusses being more concerned about one’s own sin, rather than the potential harm from Ebola. Sproul discusses passing his disease of “sin” to his own children and he can see it spreading. “there is a Tsunami impact of my own sin that reaches beyond me and my family.”
The Gospel Coalition of course has added their $.02 to this crisis: What Christians Should Know about the Ebola Crisis.
This article gives some historical background of Ebola, how it’s transmitted, etc., but in the last paragraph, we get their theological response: “How should we react to the threat of Ebola?”
When we see the word “should,” the implication is that they are presuming their way to be the right way and if we are reacting another way, our way is not the right way. :::::sigh:::::
Who anointed them (The Gospel Coalition) o be King of Shoulds? Do they have a direct line with God that we don’t to make these statements?
Now, in this particular case, I don’t have a big theological issue with what was presented, but it’s important to note how pastors and church leaders “should” on us. The onus is on us to be sure that what pastors say and tell us we should be doing lines up with what God has told us through His word. So, please be careful with those who are “shoulding you” as you navigate the Ebola fury. Cling to sound teaching from God’s Word and check for yourself, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you – yes, the same Holy Spirit accessible to all of the Kings of Shoulds.
We take a sharp turn in the next two articles.
In the article, Why Southern Baptists, Above All Others, Must Stand Ready to Aid Liberia, by Bart Barber, he explains why Southern Baptists, in particular, should be heeding the call to assist in the Ebola Crisis. Here are a few notable quotes from the article:
The nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia were founded by people who were trying to solve the conflict over slavery by repopulating slaves to Africa. Liberia was founded by the United States of America.
To the degree that such things can be true two centuries later, the Liberian mess is one of America’s making, with particular responsibility falling upon Southern Baptists.
So, when the epidemiological tides turn (we’re not at all qualified to combat viruses), I believe that Southern Baptists will be doing the honorable thing if we step up to the plate in a sacrificial and jaw-dropping, head-turning way to address the plight of Liberia’s survivors.
And finally, this church brings me back to what I view Christianity to be about: Help Ebola victims, Baptist pastor urges. Look at how this single church in Herndon, VA has made a difference:
Meanwhile Mount Pleasant, a multi-ethnic 2,800-member Southern Baptist congregation with immigrants from about 25 countries, has been responding to the crisis through long-standing ministry partners and the Virginia congregation’s church plants in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The church maintains active partnerships in several other African countries and has worked closely with the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board on numerous projects.
“We started helping [ministry partners] as soon as we were notified of the crisis,” Graham said. Working with pastors in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Mount Pleasant has sent money to purchase and distribute disinfectant kits there, and to disseminate information on avoiding and responding to the virus. Mount Pleasant is collecting nonperishable items to send to the countries in November.
“Those are the two places we’ve been focusing on and distributing primarily disinfectant kits, that is essentially Clorox, buckets and rubber gloves,” he said, “and then doing information sessions with the people there in churches concerning the necessity of exercising good hygienic practices — washing their hands, [and] sterilizing and cleaning their floors, eating utensils and that type of stuff.”
The church has a long-standing ministry to install water wells in developing countries, and will continue those efforts in the communities of Bo and Lungi, Sierra Leone.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor,
doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Mars Hill plans on moving forward as clearly identified in this statement put out by the Mars Hill Board of Overseers: Michael Van Skaik, Larry Osborne, Jon Phelps, and Matt Rogers:
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.
Let’s look at some key sentences in their statement:
This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
And this one:
We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
This appears to be the essence of the issues the Board of Overseers has with Mark Driscoll. They mention that there was no immorality by Driscoll, some charges were “unfair or untrue,” and Driscoll had previously addressed some of the issues brought before him.
Phoenix Preacher blogger, Michael Newnham wrote an excellent article, A Hollow Victory:
Mark Driscoll’s resignation is both a victory and a loss.
The tyrant has been felled, but the truth and the larger Body of Christ have not been served.
The choice Driscoll faced was between acting as a corporate leader or the leader of a church.
In the corporate world, you cut your losses, protect your resume, and move on to the next opportunity.
In the church, there is supposed to be repentance, restitution, and restoration.
This was a corporate resignation.
Included in Mark’s resignation letter was this important sentence:
Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry. (Source)
What does this sentence tell you about the Board of Overseers? Are they qualified as overseers to choose a new pastor?
Recent interview with the first fired pastor, Paul Petry:
(Sorry, I can’t seem to embed the video, but it’s a great interview.)
A few weeks ago, I was given some information regarding a new “program” that Bill Gothard is promoting. I was shocked that he’d want to get back in the saddle of ministry work so soon after resigning from the Board of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) Gothard founded IBLP in 1961 but was banned from participation due to accusations of sexual harassment from more than 30 women. The IBLP Board did eventually clear him of what they called “criminal activity,” leaving unanswered questions. (Source).
I think it is important to show a timeline of events related to Gothard’s scandal:
March 5, 2014 -Mr. Gothard indicated that he wanted to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have “ought [sic] against” him. In considering what was in the best interests of the Institute, the Board of Directors accepted Mr. Gothard’s resignation.
April 17, 2014 - A Statement from Bill Gothard:
God has brought me to a place of greater brokenness than at any other time in my life. It is a grief to realize how my pride and insensitivity have affected so many people. I have asked the Lord to reveal the underlying causes and He is doing this.
June 17, 2014 – IBLP statement:
We believe God still desires to use Bill Gothard for His work in the Kingdom of God, but we also believe it is important that he be held to the high standards clearly taught in the Scriptures and upheld by this ministry. At this time the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.
June 19, 2014 – A Christian Post article quotes from the above excerpt and says:
The letter, made public by Homeschoolers Anonymous, states that Gothard referenced a “desire to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have ‘ought [sic] [any grievance] against’ him.” Gothard said at the time he planned to “give his full attention to this objective,” and emphasized his commitment to that objective.
I’d like to share some of the e-mail and commentary.
The new program is called Total Success Power Teams. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like a multi-level marketing promo gimmick to me. The information I received seemed credible. The design was familiar and similar to other literature I’ve seen from IBLP/Gothard. It contained two pages giving historical background on Gothard and the last page went into more detail about the program without answering any obvious questions about the program itself. The whole thing felt like a teaser to me. Before I begin, I plugged the excerpt of Gothard’s historical background into my word counter. The word:
On the first page, see the picture of the large crowd, the boasting of numbers (2.7 million youth/adults have attended the seminar), the PhD credentials behind Gothard’s name, two pictures of awards or certificates, awarded to Gothard, of course. Humility? I’m not seeing it.
The second page shows four pictures down the left side:
If you were counting along with me, that makes a total of THREE pictures in two pages showing packed-out audiences. This seems to be a theme that he wants you to see: Gothard gets packed-out crowds wherever he speaks. Ho hum, humility. ::::yawn::::
The first part of Gothard’s history opens up with a woe-is-me, humble beginnings (get your tissues):
As a young boy, I certainly would have qualified for the title of “least likely to succeed.” I did not have any talents or abilities that compensated for my dismal performance in school. I flunked the first grade and barely passed the next seven grades on probation. In addition to not being able to read or remember what I read, I had a very short attention span and probably an undiagnosed case of dyslexia.
I often wondered what my future would be like, and as I approached high school I dreaded damaging the academic reputation of my two older sisters. Everything began to change when a family friend asked me, “Bill, do you really want to be successful in your life?” I immediately replied “Yes.” I was then told that if I wanted to be successful I must carry out one vital daily activity.
Then we read how God worked in Gothard’s life in amazing ways:
Something very unusual was taking place in my life. I knew that it was certainly not my doing. It was a living demonstration of God’s promise that if I was faithful in this one activity, whatever I did would prosper. This promise even extended to working with Chicago street gangs. I found a way to transform their thinking with two questions. These two questions have been 100% effective in other cities and nations.
He seems to contradict himself. He said that he was not responsible for what was happening in his life and gives God credit, yet he gives himself the kudos here: “I found a way to transform their thinking with two questions.” That’s pretty powerful stuff Gothard has. He claims he can actually transform people’s thinking? Where’s God in this?
We see more humble bragging coming up. Isn’t it cute when you kinda sorta give God credit, but then slip yourself into the equation and give yourself the credit – kind of like magician’s sleight of hand? Oh, no, no, no, not me, I didn’t do it, it was God, no me, no God . .oh wait . .
When I was 30 years old, God wanted to demonstrate to the world the vital importance of this activity. I put together a 30-hour seminar which explains the activity and how God rewarded me for doing it. Soon tens of thousands of youth and adults were packing out Colosseums across America. Thus far, over 2.7 million people from all walks of life have attended this seminar. They came by the enthusiastic word of mouth recommendations of their friends with no media advertising.
Yea, because for 2,000 years, our life has been in turmoil without this newfangled way of thinking.
Ok, and here we get to the crux of the matter. He’s been leading you with a carrot to bring you to the announcement of his new program. But look at what he does right here:
I’m sure that those who completed this seminar were convinced of the importance of this activity, and motivated to carry it out. However, it is doubtful that they had someone to personally encourage them to do it on a regular basis. Thus, many were overrun with daily cares and never experienced the rewards of faithfully doing it.
I too, became so busy with the ministry that I failed to continue this activity on a daily basis. Consequently the blessing of the Lord was lifted from my life and ministry.
Do you see what he did? He alluded to his moral failure in a slick way by saying, “consequently the blessing of the Lord was lifted from my life and ministry.” He’s blaming his moral failure on not following his program (or is it God’s program? his problem? I’m sooo confused), but he also implicates others – that they, too, have probably not had the encouragement on a regular basis. The underlying message is that they probably have failed just as he has failed. I think he wants a universal pity party . . . or something.
Whoa! Way to blameshift, Mr. Gothard. Do you see that it’s the program’s fault, it’s not the fact that Mr. Gothard has been running a group like a cult, has made inappropriate emotional/sexual advances towards young ladies. This is not a man who has recovered. This is a man who is still looking for the limelight in a new program, trying to move along really quickly from that disgrace.
For this I am deeply grieved. By God’s mercy and grace, He has brought me back and I am committed to carrying out this activity for the rest of my life. I am also determined to help as many others as I can to faithfully carry out the one thing by which God promises success in everything we do: meditating on God’s Word day and night. We will accomplish this through Total Success Power Teams.
After we read about Gothard and his compelling success story, we are led along in those two pages – – to something, but he does not disclose what. He feeds us bits and pieces of something that cause us to continue to read, that build the momentum and excitement. What is this thing he is talking about? How can we get successful? I want to know! How can God work through us like he did Mr. Gothard? (I can hardly wait ::::sarcasm::::.)
And here it is – – voila:
Did you know that you and I and everyone has overlooked a plan to benefit everyone? He still hasn’t divulged what it is, but we’re still following that carrot stick. God’s Word says we have everything we need, but Bill Gothard tells us we have overlooked something. Thankfully I now have this plan in my possession so that I can make the last decades of my life count. This is how Gothard sells or lures you in to his new hype. Now, I don’t know if this “plan” costs anything, but let me continue. I feel like I’m pulling a Gothard, leading you all on. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
That’s it! Wow. That was really powerful and profound and . . . . original? I think it is appropriate to throw in a couple of Bible verses right now:
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Mr. Gothard, there is nothing new under the sun. Your “overlooked” plan is nothing new. It’s just a remake of this verse below, but you are trying to get the credit:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thes 5:16-18
After getting over the initial shock that Bill Gothard, after less than three short months of his commitment saying he was going to make things right, has started something new, I wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth before posting something about it – you know, due diligence and all of that. I wanted to hear from someone – at least someone from IBLP – a voice within that organization to confirm the existence of this program. Now, I knew that Gothard was no longer connected with IBLP, but assumed with his long-standing relationship with the ministry he built, that they would have information about this new program.
So, I called IBLP headquarters. I first connected with a young lady. Was she a teenager? I’m not sure, but her voice was very young. She was very polite (actually oozing with politeness) and wanting to help me. She said she thought she knew what I was talking about, but transferred me to a gentlemen who would surely know.
This man was aware of the new Total Success Power Teams that Gothard was promoting and launching from his home, but was very clear to say that it was not connected in any way with IBLP. It makes me wonder how he knew so much about it if Gothard is no longer connected with IBLP. hmmm
He told me that Gothard is trying to launch the program now and suggested if I had any further questions, I could call the phone number on the e-mail, Gothard’s home phone number. I asked if he would mind sharing it with me as I did not have the number handy, and he gave it to me. Wow, I was getting somewhere, and fast. I already had the program verified, but now the opportunity to hear from the man himself was too good to pass up, so I let my fingers do the dialing.
I heard a familiar voice answer the phone – his voice sounded more frail than I remember from the two seminars our family had attended in the early 90s (hmm, I’m wondering if we were counted twice in that 2.7 million number he quoted above?) Whoa! I was talking to THE man – the guy whose face has been seen on screens all over the world giving us God’s plan for our lives.
I identified myself as Mrs. Smith (the ATI people I know use Mrs./Mr. more than first names, so I followed suit, being respectful and all) and asked, “With whom am I speaking?” He identified himself as Bill Gothard.
Now – in full disclosure – I was in a state of “whoa!!!!!-I-am- really-talking-to-Bill Gothard” and failed to identify myself as a blogger. But my mind was on a mission and so I continued by asking several questions, about the program, who is it for, is it with IBLP, that kind of thing.
I found out that fathers sign up for it and they become part of a team. Evidently it’s some sort of accountability group concept where questions are sent out and men have meetings online. The fathers then instruct their families and encourage them to pray and meditate. He told me he was very excited about it and was encouraged about the growth he had already seen in his new program.
He spoke about meditation – that the blessing of God left him “when he was not meditating day and night.” He said that he had been meditating in the morning, but had neglected meditating at night. Notice he didn’t identify specific sin, but said, “God’s blessing left” him. The real sin as he sees it seems to be that he was not meditating. Those of us familiar with this kind of response would label it as minimizing. It’s a way to avoid dealing with the full weight of responsibility.
One aspect of meditation I found interesting was when Gothard excitedly told me his views about meditating, specifically meditating at night. Gothard said that God instructs him at night after meditating. He said that God instructs through dreams while we are sleeping. His voice was excited as he shared this with me. Gothard said, “God’s calling in my life is to encourage people to meditate on scripture.”
The conversation was not long. It ended up with him telling me if my husband signed up that evening, he would be the 92nd man to join. I later asked my husband if he was interested in joining and he gave me a strange look (the usual wondering-what-I-was-up-to-now look) and declined the offer.
Ok, so after the shock wore off that I had just spoken with the Mr. Gothard, I realized I should have disclosed that I was a blogger. I was too busy with activities on Thursday, so I called again on Friday. He didn’t answer and I didn’t leave a voice mail as I planned to try again a couple of hours later. What do you know, within a short period of time, my phone rang and I saw this on my Caller ID:
I grabbed my notebook/pencil and answered the phone. Mr. Gothard asked for my husband (you know, the man of the house, and the name on the caller ID). I told him he was not available, but I was the same Mrs. Smith who had called two days earlier. This time, I made sure to identify that I was a blogger. I mentioned that I’d like to feature his new ministry on my blog.
His tone changed immediately – a 180 degree change from our earlier conversation (you can come to your own conclusions about that tone change). He quickly corrected me and said it was not a ministry and denied being responsible for it, saying a group of people were working on this “program.”
He then told me that it would not be a good idea to report on the program. I asked why not. This is where it got interesting.
Let’s think back – on Wednesday, I spoke with a man who was pumped up telling me about a new program/ministry. He was excited to share details about it, the growth it was experiencing, and the excitement men were sharing with him. He ended the conversation by saying he hoped to hear from my husband soon to get him signed up (before he left for church at 6:30 pm).
What had happened in less than 48 hours? Something must have happened between Wednesday and Friday. Now the new story on Friday was this: numbers were not as good as he had hoped, they were going to have to rework things, and he said it wasn’t public. I challenged him on that by saying that he had already sent out e-mails to ATI families, so it was indeed “out there.” He insisted that it would not be a good idea for me to report on this “program” until he had an opportunity to first announce it himself.
This phone call was a bit tense. But I had questions to ask, and interestingly, he readily responded to them.
I asked if he had reached out to the young ladies who had come forward with grievances against him:
He said he has attempted to and would love to have anyone offended contact him so he could have the opportunity to make things right.
I asked if this accountability ministry was based on fallout from last year’s allegations:
He responded that this indeed was “part of my reconciliation.” He also said that this program is also to reinforce what “we’ve been trying to do all these years.” He mentioned that this is God’s calling on his life – to encourage people to meditate on scripture.
People who have been affected by Bill Gothard have the right to know about this new ministry program. People who have been harmed by this man who has “allegedly” emotionally, spiritually, and sexually harmed people have a right to know that Bill Gothard is back to the same old stuff, promoting his own works, calling it God’s works, saying we need this to have successful lives. This is hogwash. God certainly does not need to bring a “success” program through a man who has left a lot of hurting families in his wake.
Thirty-four days have passed since the initial e-mail was sent out to ATI families. Sixteen days have passed since I last spoke to Gothard in which he said he wanted to post something about it first. He has had sufficient time to make this public. At this point, as days go on, I cannot be certain if he has ever had the intention of going “public,” as he suggested. Additionally, the news is now public on the internet. When I first got the information, there was nothing I could find online. Now there is talk about it in the comments at the Recovering Grace site by people who have received the same e-mail. It is public.
Ironically, while Gothard is pushing this new ministry/program for accountability, who is holding HIM accountable? Who gave him the green light to be involved/launch this new program? Who decided that he has shown repentance, shown over time, that he has not fallen back in his old ways of that he describes in his own statement of repentance from months ago?
For many years I have been building the Institute but losing my first love for the Lord. God warns “I know thy works, and thy labour . . . Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent. . . ”(Revelation 2:2, 4, 5). I was finding value and affirmation from the accomplishments of the ministry and those involved in it instead of filling this void in my life with God and His love. I have repented in deep sorrow. However, over the years many people have been offended in different ways because of my lack of genuine love.
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Coming sunday, SUNday, SUNDAY! Church fight! Continue reading
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