Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Road to Wenchuan

This is a testimony written by Dr Christopher Shun, who identifies himself as an anglophile (lived and studied 6 years in USA, 6 years in England and 3 years in Australia). He has been attending Calvary Church, KL since 1991.

PRAISE THE LORD I had a truly remarkable summer in China (6 weeks) and I was most surprised to find myself sighing when it was time to return to my immediate family and corporate responsibilities at home in Malaysia.

God has truly done a transformation in my heart because 3 years ago, I had NO love for China and even DESPISED her peoples, now I can’t wait to get way from China’s behemoth metropolis (Shanghai and Beijing) and head into China's Interiors to meet REAL down to earth and often UNEDUCATED Chinese nationals! Most still do not have much social graces and charm but they are HONEST and SINCERE. What a joy and delight to understand them and most importantly be UNDERSTOOD by them! They don’t speak any English at all, but with halting Mandarin, lots of gestures and comic relief and a great sense of humour is the trick!

Also, the Holy Spirit is SIMPLY AWESOME..paving the way all the time with much favour with locals, besides what great use is my PhD if you meet farmers from Gansu Province with a primary six education ?? Many Chinese parents were amused by my comic antics in especially when Chinese children would burst out laughing at my clownish demeanour. This provided numerous opportunities to break the ice and engage in serious conversations and establish a rapport. Being alone in a strange land was never a concern because I often recall that it is better to be "WEAK and DEPEND on a POWERFUL God" then to be the other way round. All my CALVARY CELL members can attest to my WEAK Mandarin!

I first spent 5 weeks in mid July in Shanghai undertaking an intensive Mandarin course at Shanghai Jiao Tong University to improve my halting Mandarin. The course was rigorous however the teaching's pedagogic methodology left much to be desired, still the intense desire to learn to communicate enabled me to persevere so that every day in the afternoons, I could walk and walk and walk (approx 3-5 miles) meeting people and understanding in depth the true nature of the Chinese peoples in side alleys, tenements and low cost slums. It was fun to be a student again!! Whilst I am chronologically 43 in age, I felt and even looked 28 years old in class! It was only at the end of the 5 week term when our backgrounds were read out did my classmates know of my British Doctorate qualification and my true age! ;-))

A visit to Sichuan province to Wenchuan Earthquake zone (Dujiangyan – one hour outside Chengdu) was heart wrenching to say the least. Three months after the massive 8.0 quake on 12-05-08 (still experiencing numerous aftershocks), and I still saw 4-5 story schools reduced to 2 stories of rubble where hundreds of children died and left there as a grim reminder or massive tomb site!

Beside them were badly cracked but still upright building testifying to shoddy workmanship and sub-standard concrete designs in the construction of the schools. Now the children only have container shed for classrooms. Many houses were destroyed and people still live in basic makeshift accommodation. Many lost their only child and often their only son, all their possessions and their hopes.

Whilst I enjoyed viewing the adorable Panda's in the Panda Research Breeding Centre in Chengdu, I felt troubled that the local scientific community was rather anxious over the loss of some Panda's (4 Panda's killed in the Earthquake!) and less over approx 87,000 needless lives lost, many of them young Children and aged citizens. By now, I had grown so used to seeing children all over Shanghai and Beijing, that the stark contrast in Sichuan Province is actually mind numbing.

I will share this, you will NEVER NEVER be the SAME again when you comprehend how little these affected souls live on and how much they strive to pull together their shattered lives. Never was a moment more ripe for the Gospel then now in Sichuan Province!

I spent one week in Beijing to meet members of the underground church and it was a precious time of fellowship. I had the opportunity to behold all the modern architectural edifices (Beijing's construction Budget in the run up to the Olympics was USD $ 42 bn). Still within 2 blocks from the Forbidden city, I walked through many impoverished alleys (hutongs), met locals in open singlet and flip flops casually playing Chinese chess and a brief visit to their homes revealed a very basic and humble existence.

Their lives were neither touched by the rapid development nor visited by tourists. I was a different kind of tourist! "Zhong guo de fazhen, yi nian bi yi nian kuai buguo renmen de xinzang yue lai yue kongr" (China’s development year by year is increasingly rapidly but the people’s heart are more and more empty).

I arranged with a cell leader to visit a remote part of the Great Wall away from the maddening crowds, we drove 90+ km northwest of Beijing (Direction of Inner Mongolia) to the Huang Hua (Yellow Flower) valley. And we stopped and parked our car by an irrigation dam, where we walked on foot for an hour down a stream and up a hill to finally reach the Great Wall and to enter and walk on it. As I gazed to my left and right, I saw the Great Wall snake for miles and miles and not a single soul in sight! We walked for 4 hours and it gave me time to establish a rapport with this cell leader and we prayed on the Wall. It was an INSPIRING Prayer WALK.

When I was in Xi’An, Shaanxi Province on 8th August 2008 (home of the terracotta warriors) had a chance to watch the Olympics Opening ceremony’s symbolic unveiling of the historical scroll in the main square of a 500 year old wall (fortress intact) city. I meet many Chinese Muslims (the Hui people) and the fact that I hailed from a Muslim country opened doors for serious thought provoking conversations.

I met some farmers from Gansu Province…they actually stared at me, came to within 2 feet and pointed their finger and asked somewhat crudely “ni shi na guo ren??!!” (you are what country person– direct translation). Ahem.. with their crooked finger 2 inches from my nose, I stepped back two steps and replied haltingly in Mandarin.. “wo shi Malaisiya ren, yi ban huaren, yiban Yindu ren denyu “Huatu ren!!” (I am a Malaysian; half Chinese and half Indian..equals “Chindian”).. They don’t have an equivalent word for Chindian in Mandarin, I just made that new word (Huatu) up!! they burst out laughing hysterically.

However, when they found out how much I know Chinese Geography (I knew their specific hometowns in Gansu and Qinghai and also their approximate distance from Xi’an) and their rich and colourful (“fengfu duocai”) Chinese History…they warmed up very quickly!...The point is……..always play the clown first……..then later they will listen to sagely wisdom JJ.

Nonetheless, when these “simple” rural Chinese folks accept the Gospel and receive Jesus as their Saviour, their infectious enthusiasm, focussed dedication and deep commitment is almost unparalleled in any of the Western Churches I have visited….Truly..”they love not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). The Chinese HC’s (House Churches) are the closest I have seen to the Early Church in Acts 2-3. Their earnest belief encourages me!, their unwavering faith inspires me! This I want to see in all of Calvary Home churches!

In summary, it has finally taken Father God 43 years to prepare me to set foot on Chinese soil! Whilst, I did have some frustrating moments and some of the inscrutable and wily Chinese were boorish and rude BUT on the whole I finally began to appreciate the HEART of our FATHER GOD. Imagine only 200+ million are rather prosperous, the remaining 1.1 billion souls are just at the poverty line or slightly above it.

To understand China, you must never take a tour group! Take LOCAL busses, meet LOCAL people, eat LOCAL cuisine, pray with the LOCAL church and finally you will have a LOCAL heart for China!

Should any of you be free next spring and summer (Northern Hemisphere - March & June 2009) to want to seek an exciting eco tour in some of the most spectacular landscape in South-Western China, I know a great place in Yunnan province called “Xiangelila” – Shangri-La) where accommodation is very reasonable (basic and rustic), better walking exercise than Clark Hatch (10 km daily) and more thrilling rides across raging rivers than Theme parks and Disneyland. Food is fresh (veggies - no pesticides) and the fish (well you have to catch them). The best part is you get rapidly acquainted with Khamba Tibetans and the Lisu peoples (two of 490 minority tribes in the Chinese hinterland)

If you are have 9 months to prepare your hearts and gird up your loins.... and JOIN ME! Step out in Faith, be WILLING and see where God TAKES is SIMPLY TOO EXCITING to BEHOLD. AGE is no barrier but you need to have lots of exercise for the climb up the hills and down the valleys.

Be richly Blessed

Chris Shun

Note : If you wish to contact Dr Christopher Shun, please write directly to him at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Responsibilities of the Church Board

This is an Article we extracted from Library Article.

Location: Church Administration

Responsibilities of the church board
by Crown Financial Ministries

Although the authority and responsibilities of church boards are as diverse as the churches they serve, there are some responsibilities that should be consistent and typical for all church boards. These are establishing policy, financial reporting, compensation review, and budget approval.

Establishing policy
One of the primary functions of the church board, regardless of the denomination or size of the church, is the approval, revision, and implementation of church administrative and legislative policies.

These policies should be recorded in the board minutes at the first board meeting of each fiscal year. Any policy revisions or new policy adoptions should be recorded in the minutes of the board meeting in which the revision or new policy was adopted. Then they should be added to the existing policy guide within one week of the revision and/or adoption.

Financial reporting
The board of each church should authorize an independent annual audit, based on generally accepted auditing standards; and financial statements should be prepared, following generally accepted accounting principles.

The auditing firm should do the following.
  • Have a thorough knowledge of current accounting standards and understand nonprofit organization and church finance.
  • Routinely prepare value-added management letters for their audit clients.
  • Help the church reduce its audit fee.
  • Understand the individual church's accounting system.
After the audit has been completed and a financial report has been submitted, the board should review the audit and either adopt it or reject it, with explanations for the rejection.
If accepted, the audit report can be presented to the congregation. If rejected, the board should resubmit the audit with its explanations to the same auditing firm.
The board also should receive staff/department head-prepared monthly or quarterly financial statements that reflect all financial transactions, including income, of the department or ministry.

Compensation review
In most churches in America, the church board generally establishes the compensation package for the senior pastor. The pastor in turn sets the salary of all staff members.

An annual review of the senior pastor's compensation package is vital. The review should focus on all elements of compensation—taxable and nontaxable items, salary, benefits, expenses, allocations, housing and car allowances, retirement, bonuses, use of church property, and reimbursements. In addition, the board should use this time to review the pastor's performance, establish objectives, and set performance criteria.

At the first board meeting of each fiscal year, the entire detailed compensation package offered and accepted by the senior pastor should be entered into the board minutes.

Budget approval
Each department or ministry head should submit to the board for their approval a departmental or ministry budget for the coming fiscal year.

In larger churches these departmental budgets are submitted to a finance committee. From these various department budgets, a general organizational budget is developed and submitted to the board for their approval.

After approval, the budget is usually presented to the congregation for its approval.
The board controller or church treasurer is usually responsible for enforcing the budget, reporting, and presenting budgetary revisions as needed.

In some churches, the board is little more than a representative of the people to the pastor. In others, the board is the governing body in all areas of church business. Whether the church board is passive or active, it has responsibilities that are consistent and should be constant and non compromising.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Financial integrity in the ministry by Crown Financial Ministries

Financial integrity in the ministry by Crown Financial Ministries

Pastors Finances
“Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21). The few things that Jesus is talking about in this particular scriptural passage refer to money or finances. The many things refer to spiritual responsibilities. If pastors prove their honesty and integrity in temporal things—things that do not last, such as money—God then can trust them with the more important things, such as the spiritual well-being of people.

However, if ministers prove to be lacking in financial integrity, it is unlikely that they will have a consistent or spiritually auspicious ministry. If God cannot trust them with the lesser things of money, how can He trust them with the greater things of spiritually influencing the direction of people's eternal lives?

Administration of finances
One of the wisest choices pastors can make with regard to the finances of the church is to delegate handling and spending money to a business administrator, treasurer, or finance administrator. Although some pastors are good business people and good administrators of finance, God primarily called pastors to shepherd the flock of Christ, not to manage the finances of the church.

In addition, if pastors delegate paying bills, writing checks (pastors should neither sign nor cosign checks), collecting money, depositing money, and making large purchases to trustworthy financial administrators who have a reputation of honesty, they will eliminate suspicion and questions of mismanagement before the questions arise. Even though the pastor may not physically handle any of the money or write any checks, he or she is ultimately responsible for good stewardship and faithful management of the finances of the church. Pastors should insist on the following.

1. Each department should submit the next year's operating and expenditure budget at least three months prior to the end of the current fiscal year. Once the departmental budget has been approved, special permission must be granted by the appropriate administrative officials to spend more than has been allocated.

2. Each department and/or church ministry and/or outreach should keep accurate records of annual income and expenditures.

3. All departments that have substantial expenditures and/or income (an amount equal to or exceeding 30 percent of the church's overall income or expenditures) should have an independent audit (a separate audit in addition to the church's annual general audit).

4. The church should have an annual audit by a professional independent CPA, which will be made available to every member of the congregation at a regularly scheduled annual business meeting. This CPA should not be a member of the church; nor should any of the accounting firm's employees be members of the church or be related to any staff member, employee, or board member of the church.

Position of integrity
Because pastors hold a position of trust in the opinion of most members of a congregation, pastors must avoid situations that may tend to lead to mistrust or suspicions of financial mismanagement by the pastor. In order to avoid this potentially compromising situation, pastors need to consider the following.

1. Pastors should never take any money, collected for any reason, home with them. Nonetheless, other than petty cash, money should never be kept at the church for any reason.

2. Pastors should never deposit offerings into the bank. The finance administrator, business administrator, or a member of the board delegated by the business administrator should make deposits. Pastors should never touch, for any reason, any offerings taken for any purpose. They need to treat money given to the church like they would a red-hot stove—stay away from it.

3. Pastors should never cosign a note for the church. Pastors should never allow their names to be placed on the deed (or any proof of ownership) of any property owned by their churches.

4. Pastors should exercise prudence in giving gifts and benefits (graduation gifts, gifts to staff, and so on).

5. Pastors should avoid accepting tithes (especially if the tithe is paid in cash) from members or attendees. They should encourage the givers either to give their tithes at church or mail the tithes to the church. In fact, pastors should try never to accept any gifts on behalf of the church. They should encourage the givers to give the gifts to their church treasurers, financial administrators, or business administrators. If it is necessary for pastors to accept gifts on behalf of their churches, they should issue receipts for the gifts immediately upon the acceptance of them.

6. Pastors should avoid accepting honorariums in cash. Insist that all honorariums be paid by checks and paid to the order of their churches. This way, the church business administrators can rightly credit the honorariums as income to the pastors. If pastors must accept cash, the giver should receive a cash receipt for the amount of cash given. A copy of the receipt should then be given to the church business administrator.

7. Pastors should never solicit gifts, rewards, prizes, or benefits for themselves.

8 Pastors should, if at all possible, refuse all gifts, rewards, prizes, or benefits that compromise the integrity of the ministry.

9. Pastors should never borrow money from pastoral accounts for personal use. Likewise they should not use their church's credit cards or charge accounts set up for ministry use for personal use or benefit.

10. Pastors should not use church property or equipment without written approval from at least one board member, business administrator, or financial administrator.

11. Pastors should not expect reimbursements unless accurate records are submitted, along with a receipt confirming the expenditure and attesting to the fact that the expenditure was ministry related.

12. Pastors should not request an advance on their salaries unless warranted by an emergency and then only after submitting a request to the financial administrator or business administrator in writing and receiving approval of the advance in writing.

13. Pastors should never have the church's CPA or attorney prepare his or her personal income taxes.

One of the easiest, most hurtful, and professionally devastating traps for pastors to fall into is that of financial indiscretion. For this reason, pastors must avoid every appearance of compromise and even the slightest hint of financial impropriety regarding the finances of the church. However, by being faithful to Jesus' admonitions, seeking His guidance in prayer, and being cautious by staying far away from any financially compromising situation regarding church finances, pastors can minister freely knowing that they are not guilty of financial imprudence.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is Spiritual Abuse?

This was submitted as a comment under our posting "Touch Not My Annointed"

What is Spiritual Abuse?
Spiritual abuse occurs when a person, who has been given authority within a spiritual or religious context, misuses that authority and abuses those who gave him or her such authority. Similar terms include authoritarianism, manipulation, intimidation, legalism and elitism.

The following comments are excerpted from “Healing Spiritual Abuse” by Ken Blue.
Abuse of any type occurs when someone has power over another and uses that power to hurt. Spiritual abuse happens when a leader with spiritual authority uses that authority to coerce, control or exploit a follower, thus causing spiritual wounds.

People who “survive” spiritual abuse often wander in a kind of limbo; they are confused, hurt and angry … They had been intensely dedicated to Christ at one time … The most committed believers are often the most vulnerable to abusive religion.

The authoritarian, narcissistic ecclesiastical abusers of our day are the modern equivalent of the Pharisees whom Jesus scolded. Jesus not only exposed and denounced the Pharisees as false shepherds but also offered himself as advocate for their victims … [Spiritual abuse was] the one social problem Jesus himself seemed to care about most.

How Can We Recognize Spiritual Abuse? The following comments are excerpted from “Twisted Scriptures” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar.
If you have experienced any of these conditions in your church, it may indicate a misuse of Scripture and/or may represent the presence of abuse and excessive control:

•Church members are rebuked for actions that aren’t really sinful but which merely differ from the leaders’ opinions
•The leader uses verses such as “Touch not my anointed” to imply we can’t criticize leaders without being critical of God
•There exist a group of Church members who emphasizes trusting leaders, having faith in leaders, imitating leaders, and/or being loyal to them and not to question the leaders.
•The same group of Church members teaches people to obey even when it doesn’t feel right
•The leader teaches that the Bible says to stay away from those who have “fallen away”
•The leader teaches that “following Christ” means giving up all personal wishes, desires and goals
•The leaders [supposedly] can hear God and know God’s Will better than you can
•The gray and open areas of your life become narrowed, and absolute rights and wrongs are made very clear
•The group of Church members become extremely irritated when someone criticizes the leaders
•Those who disagree with, or openly challenge, leaders are "causing divisions"
•The group of Church members chose not to be associate with people who question the leadership.
•Your leader talks about being “unequally yoked” when discussing potential mates not in your group
•You are told examples of bad things that happened to people who left your group
•You feel guilty when you make your own decisions that go against the approval of your leader (in dealing with non-moral issues)
•The leaders publicly rebuke or discipline members for matters that are not necessary to expose to the whole church
•The leaders repeatedly and emphatically request money (and stress that a lack of financial giving is an indication of an unhealthy spiritual life)

People who suffer from spiritual abuse, as well as their abusers, are both victims of a faulty paradigm. Their warped understanding of God, the Scriptures, and the Church not only justifies the abuse, but also imprisons them. The only way to break free from this cycle of suffering is to adopt (or create) a new paradigm.

However, this process is extremely painful and costly, because it requires the person to endure a complete mental breakdown as he moves from one paradigm to another. The greatest power we can enlist against the evil forces of spiritual abuse is SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE & EDUCATION for it is through the open-minded consideration of other alternatives that the light of knowledge can eliminate the darkness of ignorance.

This calls for spiritual maturity and discernment. God's people perish because of lack of spiritual knowledge.

"Boundaries" by Cloud & Townsend
"Churches That Abuse" by Ron Enroth
"Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences" by Ken Blue
"Recovering from Churches that Abuse" by Ron Enroth
"Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves" by Steven Hassan
"The Shack" by William P. Young
"The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by Johnson & Van Vonderen
"Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing From Painful Spiritual Abuse" by Arterburn & Felton
"Twisted Scriptures" by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
"When I Say No, I Feel Guilty" by Manuel Smith

For further information, contact David Clute or Nate Clute at: and Nate were born into and gave 25+ years of their lives to a church in Omaha, Nebraska, that started out preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the best of its understanding. The church ended up pursuing an entirely different agenda that wounded many individuals and families, including David and Nate's family. The two brothers left the church in 2005 and have since found much healing, hope and happiness, which they love to share with other victims of abuse.

Submitted by Vijay


I have shared this information for the purpose of educating and liberating Christians from spiritual abuse. If you are already a Christian who has gone through Spiritual Abuse and liberated by the power of the Holy Spirit, I would encourage you to make yourself available to other victims."

Dr. Paramsothy Vijayan

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Applying Faith... ...When Economic Fear Strikes

Tune in to any financial news broadcast, browse any newspaper, note the houses for sale on your own block, and scan your investments and retirement fund and you’ll find that bad news abounds. Fear can begin to grip us causing us to either freeze up and do nothing or make erratic, emotional and ultimately poor choices.

Avoiding Unhealthy Fear
The economic earthquake rocking America and the world is bringing great change to the financial landscape. Our choice as Christians is to turn to the Lord for wisdom and guidance rather than become slaves to fear.

According to Chad Moler there are 365 “fear not” references in the Bible, one for every day of the year. The Lord knew in turbulent times we would need constant reminders to place our trust in Him. Paul wrote, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

A key principle to remember when we experience fear is to differentiate between healthy fear and unhealthy fear. For example, I live in the State of Arizona in close proximity to mountain lions. In the unlikely event a mountain lion would stalk me, experiencing normal appropriate fear would allow me to take immediate action and get out of the way. Experiencing inappropriate fear would convince me to never go for a walk because I might get attacked by a mountain lion. Healthy appropriate fear prompts us to correct action, while unhealthy fear can paralyze us.

Steps for Creating a Faith Attitude
1. We need to turn to the Lord for wisdom, not the Wall Street “experts.” King Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). Trust is a choice. Since we choose to trust our spouse and choose to trust certain news sources, we can therefore choose to trust the Lord.

2. We must remember Scripture’s admonition, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). When we struggle with apprehension, our stomach churns and our heart flutters. Instead of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed, we have the ability to cast all our care upon the Lord. Even if we struggle to release our fears, we can ask the Lord to remove them through prayer.

3. We need to ask for God’s peace and direction. James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5 NIV). In prayer ask the Lord to give you wisdom, direction and peace even when others are confused and fearful. Ask the Lord for the specific steps he would have you take. A specific direction from God in your circumstance will be far more powerful than any so-called “expert” advice.

4. When the pressure builds, we need to take hold of God’s promise as Paul expressed so well, “My God will meet all your needs” (Philippians 4:19 NIV). However, we must remember that while the Lord is faithful to provide all our needs, he has not promised to meet every desire we have.

Drought Comes to the Just and the Unjust
The Lord sent a drought to Israel and the Prophet Elijah suffered the consequences of that drought along with the remnant of the faithful who had never bowed to the false god Baal. Although Scripture demonstrates how the Lord provided for Elijah, (see 1 Kings 17) keeping Elijah alive by his direct intervention, Elijah was allowed to suffer during the drought. Likewise, in a brutal financial environment, the pain will be shared by the just and the unjust. The Lord will see us through this time of financial hardship but we must be prepared to experience a certain level of personal difficulty.

Setting Appropriate Action
First, because in our fast paced world facts can be elusive, we must take the appropriate amount of time to determine what the facts really are. The Lord can give us divine clarity to see and evaluate the real facts in a confusing situation. With the financial world presenting us with more and more talking heads with differing perspectives based on conflicting facts, only God can help us sort out the fact from the fiction.

Second, once we receive clarity, we need to take appropriate action without delay. As King Solomon wrote, “How long will you fools fight the facts?” (Proverbs 1:22 NLT). Whatever action the Lord impresses us to take; we need to act on that promptly.

The Lord has provided a pathway that moves us from fear to faith. As we make the choice to embrace the Lord and his wisdom, direction, and peace through faith, we become a shining light for the Lord. That light, even during the darkest economic times, is a light that can guide many to a relationship with Christ. Together may we all be Christ’s light in the current darkness.

AND DON’T FORGET, to subscribe to Steve Marr’s excellent daily email, go to either or

Sunday, October 19, 2008

CEO's Emergency Checklist

Answering the Call
...With a CEO’s Emergency Checklist

As we continue to address the current challenges we are facing globally, we promised a checklist to be used as a tool for each of us to plan and move ahead with intentionality - ensuring that we both respond effectively to the situation, and leverage this opportunity for maximum Kingdom impact. Here is a list for CEO/Owners and senior executives as we chart the course for our companies (can you tell there were pilots in the room?).

Oh, yes, and even though I too often cringe when I hear these words from James, nevertheless, the principle is too important not keep on our screen – especially since “The joy of the Lord” is our strength, and it is that joy that will draw others to ask why we are different at times like this.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:2-4 NASB)

Expectantly in Christ,


Doug Hunter
President and CEO
Fellowship of Companies for Christ International / Christ@Work

You don't waste your life by where you work, but by how and why. John Piper

(Click on the table to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Massive Investment Banking Failures ...

Massive Investment Banking Failures Spotlight
a Lesson on Main Street

By Steve Marr

The current insolvency of some of the largest and oldest financial institutions has been caused by massive leveraging of assets. In simple terms, for every dollar these institutions possessed in hard assets, they borrowed 30, 40, 50 or even 60 times that amount. Once any business, large or small becomes that leveraged, trouble is brewing.

Consider Tom who bought numerous homes to initially generate rental income with plans to sell at a profit once values increased. He purchased one home for $300,000 with a 5% down payment, financing a balance of $ 285,000. As a result, Tom was leveraged 19 to 1, meaning he owed $19.00 for every dollar invested. A 10% decline in the real-estate market caused his investment to drop to $270,000 in value, wiping out all his equity and creating a $15,000 loss.

Since Tom owned many houses, the drop in value plus the loss of a few tenants resulted in him not being able to cover all of his payments. Within a few months, as his losses mounted and Tom lacked the cash to cover his obligations, bankruptcy soon followed.

Even 2,500 years ago the Prophet Habakkuk predicted what would happen when credit was allowed to mount unchecked. He wrote, “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them” (Habakkuk 2:7 NSB). The more leveraged an individual or business becomes, the greater the risk. Creditors have a way of rising up at the worst possible time for a borrower!

Tom, like some of the largest financial institutions today, made the same error; leveraging investments to the maximum. When a borrower risks and all turns out well, great profits are generated and the borrower appears to be a genius for a time. However, no market ever travels solely straight up. Even if Tom turned out to be right on the long term housing market, a short-term squeeze could push him over the edge. The same thing happened to Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns, only on a larger scale. Unfortunately, more big names are likely to follow.

Biblically, debt was never positively portrayed. King Solomon explained, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7). King David added, “The wicked borrows and does not pay back” (Psalm 37:21). When we become highly leveraged we create potential situations where we may be unable to pay back what we owe.

Deuteronomy 28 even depicts debt as a curse. While avoiding all debt is difficult today, the key is to understand that debt is never a blessing. The more we borrow, the more we become leveraged and the more future pressure we will endure.

As Christians we can take several important steps during these turbulent times.

First, avoid highly leveraged borrowing, either personally or in business.

Second, if for any reason we cannot pay what we owe, we need to make a personal confession to the Lord and to others whom we have failed to honor with our payments.

Third, and finally, turn to the Lord just as Habakkuk did, “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines; though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls; yet I will exalt in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength and He has made my feet like hind's feet and makes me walk on high places” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NASB).

At all times and in all places we need to look to God for He alone is our guiding light. Though the world may present much turmoil, God is our source; He is always faithful to see us through.

*FCCI Weekly Email*Copyright © 2008 *FCCI*, All rights reserved.

From: Doug Hunter
Subject: RE: Answer the call
Cc: "'Kristen Jones'"
Date: Wednesday, 15 October, 2008, 2:26 AM

You certainly have our permission to post this, as well as the Checklist that will follow tomorrow.
Thank you for the encouraging note!
Blessings ………..


President and CEO
Fellowship of Companies for Christ International / Christ@Work
Office: 770-685-6000
Cell: 678-358-9341
4201 North Peachtree Road
Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30341

You don't waste your life by where you work, but by how and why. John Piper

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Urgent Prayer Request: Christians in Iraq

Persecuted Christians said...
Another prayer request..this time for the Christians in Iraq. CNN reported that at least 900 Christian families had to flee Mosul in the past week, terrified by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists.
October 12, 2008 1:43 PM

News said...

CNN reports, The attacks may have been prompted by Christian demonstrations ahead of provincial elections, which are to be held by the end of January, the deputy governor of Nineveh province said. Deputy Gov. Khasro Goran said 13 Christians have been slain in the past two weeks in Mosul, about 260 miles (420 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Fleeing Christians have sought refuge in monasteries and churches and with family members in other towns, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attacks began after hundreds of Christians took to the streets in Mosul and surrounding villages and towns, seeking greater representation on provincial councils, whose members will be chosen in the local elections.Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, Nineveh's governor, told The Associated Press that the exodus was "a major displacement."

"Of course, al Qaeda elements are behind this campaign against Christians," Kashmoula told AP. The Interior Ministry official said the homes of three families were destroyed with explosives Saturday after the occupants left. No injuries were reported. A week ago, leaflets were distributed in several predominantly Christian neighborhoods, threatening families to "either convert to Islam or pay the jizyah or leave the city or face death," said the Interior Ministry official.

Historically, jizyah is a tax paid by non-Muslims in exchange for protection. Goran said that a few days after the leaflets were passed out, gunmen set up checkpoints in parts of Mosul, stopping vehicles to inspect identification papers, searching for Christian names or other signs of religious affiliation. Many of the Christians killed were targeted in this way, he said. Bashir Azoz, 45, told AP he fled his Mosul home after gunmen warned a neighbor to leave or be killed. "Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?" asked Azoz, a carpenter who is staying with his wife and three children in a town about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Mosul, according to AP.

The Rev. Bolis Jacob, of Mosul's Mar Afram Church, told AP he couldn't understand the attacks. "We respect the Islamic religion and the Muslim clerics," he said. "We don't know under what religion's pretexts these terrorists work. "Goran said police have set up security checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Heavy Cross?

Whatever your cross,
Whatever your pain,
There will always be sunshine,
After the rain...

Perhaps you may stumble,
Perhaps even fall,
But God's always ready,
To answer your call...

He knows every heartache,
Sees every tear,
A word from His lips,
Can calm every fear...

Your sorrows may linger,
Throughout the night,
But suddenly vanish,
In dawn's early light...

The Savior is waiting,
Somewhere above,
To give you His grace,
And send you His love...

Whatever your cross,
Whatever your pain,
'God always sends rainbows...
After the rain...'

To get out of difficulty, one must usually go through it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Love Malaysia on our knees - October Focus- Selangor

NECF Malaysia <> wrote:
From: NECF Malaysia <>
Subject: Love Malaysia on our knees - October Focus- Selangor
Date: Monday, September 29, 2008, 3:02 PM

Dear Prayer Partners,
Thank you for loving Malaysia on our knees . Selangor will be the focus for the month of October

Serving with gladness,
Ann Low

Selangor, Darul Ehsan, Abode of Sincerity

Capital Shah Alam (Royal Capital: Klang)
Sultan Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah
Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim

Statistics ( Malaysia Statistics Dept., 2005)
Population 4,736,100 (est.): Malay 50.73% (or 41%), Other Bumiputera 1.46% (Temuan, Mah-Meri), Chinese 28.07% (or 37%), Indian 13.45% (or 19%), Others 1.04%, Non-citizens 5.25% (Indonesian, Myanmar , Bangladeshi, Nepali, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese)
( Selangor State Govt., 2007) 4.96 million (est.): Malay 55.7%, Chinese 29%, Indian 14%, Others 1.3%

Religious breakdown (2000) Islam 55.7%, Buddhism 24.4%, Hinduism 12.1%, Taoism/Confucianism 2.0%, Christianity 4.3%, Tribal 0.3%, Others 0.4%, No Religion 0.5%, Unknown 0.3%.
Incidence of poverty (2004) 1.0%

Due to its rapid economic growth, Selangor is currently the most populous, riches, most industrialized and most urbanized of all the Malaysian states. It is the 2nd richest in terms of GDP per capita after Penang . On 27 August 2005 , Selangor was officially declared the first developed state in Malaysia .

Historical & Political Development in Brief

The rich tin reserves in Selangor attracted miners, immigrants and colonizers.
Among them were different bands of Bugis. By 1700 the Bugis dominated the state both politically and economically and established the present Sultanate of Selangor.

Economic boom and the growing importance of rubber drew an influx of Chinese migrants. However, the continuous in-fighting between the Bugis contending for control and the presence of rival Chinese clans had created social and economic havoc. In addition, conflicts among the Malay princes had threatened to bring about civil war. All these eventually opened a window of opportunity for the British.

Selangor was forced to accept a British Resident in 1874 and united with Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Pahang to form the Federated Malay States (FMS) in 1896. The capital of FMS was Kuala Lumpur . The state government was under British management except the administration of Islam and the appointment of religious officials (which remained in the sultans hands). The first British-backed sultan, Sultan Sulaiman, was installed in 1903. FMS later evolved into the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

In the 1969 elections, the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional) suffered great setback. The opposition DAP and the then opposition Gerakan held the victory procession to celebrate their gain. They however deviated from the permitted route and headed through the Malay district of Kampung Baru, jeering at the people. This led to a rally held by UMNO, started from the home of Selangor menteri besar Harun Idris (Gordon, 1991). Clashes involving the Malays and Chinese soon broke out, which became the famously known May 13 Incident. The riots continued for a substantial period of time, and a state of national emergency was declared with suspension of Parliament until 1971.

In 1970, the city of Kuala Lumpur was relinquished to the federal government.
The Sultan is the constitutional head of Selangor, who plays largely a ceremonial role.
The 2008 March election ended the reign of the Barisan Nasional state government. The new state government is now under Pakatan Rakyat (a loose coalition of DAP, PKR and PAS) with Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim of PKR as the new menteri besar.

For the first time, a Chinese is being elected as the state assembly speaker, and a woman as a deputy speaker. The new state executive council has also opened a new historical chapter with half of ifs members being non-Malays.

The Church

It is said that sizable English-speaking churches with marketing savvy and hi-tech cum feel-good worship are found in the Klang Valley . They are financially well off, have the capacity to operate various ministries with attractive evangelistic activities and the ability to organise seminars featuring internationally renown speakers. In other words, they are self-sufficient. However, majority of the local churches in Selangor are modest. Though small in size, they quietly and faithfully serve the Lord and are actively reaching out in their own ways to their respective communities. Migrant ministries are flourishing.

Some of the challenges faced by the Church are: the performance-driven inclination, the complacent longtime believers and indifferent second generation Christians, the yet-to-be-reconciled tensions between the modernist-thinking leadership and the discontented intellectual youth with questions not answered, and the rampant consumerism within the church culture.

1) State government
a. Transparency, integrity and impartiality for menteri besar and all local authorities in governance
b. Effectiveness and competence in all policy-implementations.
c. Wise financial management and good stewardship
d. Prioritize public interests and public wellbeing
e. Committed to poverty-eradication
f. Appropriate development plans without affecting the poor and the environment.
g. Corrupt officials be removed

2) Religious freedom provided by the Constitution be upheld and respected by all.

3) Sensible religious authorities; against the spirit behind religious zealots.

4) Orang Asli be accorded just treatment and dignity

5) Decrease in crime

6) Sense of civic consciousness and environmental cleanliness in the communities; public health awareness to reduce disease-related illnesses (e.g. dengue).

7) The Church
a. Unity; Christ-centric instead of egocentric; Kingdom-centric instead of church-centre
b. awareness of challenges facing the Church and wisdom to address them
c. Effective role in issues affecting the community, excels for God in marketplace, passion in rural outreaches.

This Aritcle has been intentionally shortened for easy reading.

Christians Chriticizing Christians by Bob and Gretchen Passantino

Christians Chriticizing Christians, Can It Be Biblical? by Bob and Gretchen Passantino

When it comes to Christians criticizing Christians, the battle lines are drawn. But are the lines biblical? Is it wrong to publicly evaluate the teachings of a Christian pastor, expose the immorality of a Christian leader, or tell the truth about a popular Christian media figure?

Evangelicals warn people about the false teachings and practices of the cults, which claim compatibility with Christianity and yet deny cardinal Christian doctrine. Our standard is truth and our judge is Scripture. Yet when apologists turn to false teachings within the Christian church, some evangelicals apply a different standard. Frequently heard objections include, "Jesus said it's wrong to judge," and, "Criticism is unloving and divisive." Christians who voice these protests fail their own test -- they criticize and judge other Christians for criticizing and judging other Christians.

Furthermore, these critics fail to understand that without such scrutiny, Christians are misled into heresy and duped by those whose public ministries promote false teachings and/or hide private immoral behavior. Careful, biblical criticism expresses true Christian love and affords essential safeguards to faith. Good discernment and moral accountability should be practiced among believers.

The Old Testament establishes this pattern. Instructions concerning false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 assume the prophet arises from the congregation of Israel. People are admonished to banish idolatry from their families: "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend..." (v. 6). Deuteronomy 13 instructs the Israelites how to practice good discernment within their communities: "You must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly." If the community is idolatrous, it must be dealt with publicly (v. 14). Psalm 50:18 states that one who sees a crime and doesn't report it has moral culpability.

The New Testament continues the theme of good discernment within the believing community, most notably when the Bereans test Paul's teachings (Acts 17:11) and the Thessalonians are commanded to test all things (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Judgment is not excluded, but unrighteous judgment is. Jesus declared: "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:24).

Jesus expelled the money changers from the temple, denounced the Pharisees and scribes, and rebuked the teachers of the Law. He reprimanded Peter in front of the other disciples (Matt. 16:22-23). Paul followed Jesus' example, naming false teachers in the church (2 Tim. 2:14-19) and openly criticizing Peter (Gal. 2:11, 14).

When immorality occurs in the church (Titus 1:15-16), the Bible says to deal with it truthfully and constructively. The procedure for public leaders caught in false teaching or immorality is for them to be rebuked publicly "so that the others may take warning" (1 Tim. 5:20).

A congregation member who sins privately against another Christian is not to be exposed publicly unless he (or she) persists in sin, in which case he is to be rebuked before the church and we are to "treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector" (Matt. 18:15-17). Paul followed this procedure concerning the Christian who persisted in sexual immorality (1 Cor. 5:3-12), and affirmed that judgment belongs to the church.

Christian leaders are accountable to God's people, whom the leaders serve, and should be "above reproach," "respectable," and "able to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2). A Christian leader who is a false teacher or immoral should be rebuked to encourage reform (Titus 1:13), and cannot separate his ministry from his life, expecting God to bless his preaching while privately he sins; he is "disqualified for every good work" (vv. 15-16).

Telling the truth about false teaching or immorality in the church corresponds with the ethics and truth which are to characterize the church. The church is the "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13-14) only if characterized by truthfulness (v. 11) and righteousness (v. 16). The Christian leader has an obligation to "hold firmly the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9). No Christian is happy when false teaching or immorality arises, but we cannot neglect responsibility for doctrinal and moral accountability.

Christians sometimes are uncomfortable with criticism within the church because they assume that public criticism, since it is painful, is also destructive. On the contrary, the "pain" of biblically conducted confrontation produces individual growth (1 Tim. 4:16), encourages others to Christian maturity (1 Tim. 5:19-20), promotes church strength (Eph. 4:15), and preserves the church's reputation in the world (1 Pet. 2:12).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Christian - God's Living Bible

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston , Texas . Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, 'You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.' Then he thought, 'Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet.'

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, 'Here, you gave me too much change.' The driver, with a smile, replied, 'Aren't you the new preacher in town?' 'Yes' he replied. 'Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday.'

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, 'Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.'

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard -- and remember -- You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself 'Christian.'

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

The Will of God will never take you to where the Grace of God will not PROTECT you...

Stay FAITHFUL and be GRATEFUL at all times

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Touch Not My Anointed

Touch not my anointed! by

I challenge all who say this phrase to read this whole article through prayerfully and with an open mind and heart.

Loyalty is a good thing if it is for the right purpose and for truth. One certainly does not want to be loyal and find they have pledged their allegiance to something that is false.
“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:150
But for one to find out what is true or false they must look into matter and hear both sides before they make a final judgment. “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).

In a time of catchy phrases and clichés', Christians can be no different. What does the Bible mean when it says not to touch God’s anointed? It’s not my opinion or yours that matters; but what God’s Word have to say about this that really counts? I certainly wish the people that repeat this phrase would read it in its context, 'the Lord's anointed', is a reference to the kings of the nation of Israel (1Sam. 12:3,5; 24:6,10; 26:9,11, 16,23; 2 Sam. 1:14,16; 19:21; Psalm 20:6; Lam. 4:20).

The mention of prophets, is a reference to the patriarchs (Psalm 105:8-15; 1Chron. 16:15-22). It is used exclusively in the Old Testament. Ps 105:11-15 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,” When they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people, “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” Notice in this Scripture that God protected His anointed (who was Israel) and His prophets from the enemies of Israel to bring physical harm.

The first thing one should notice is that the word touch actually means physical harm. What it does not mean is saying something about another person publicly that is true. How do we know this? Because that's exactly what David did about Saul. It was David who said he would not harm God’s anointed, who was King Saul at the time but He spoke out publicly about him.

Not only David, but Samuel “touched God's anointed,” as he spoke out against the kings disobedience. God told Saul to “Smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not...” (1 Sam. 15:3). But instead, he spoke a half truth and “spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord...” (v.15). Samuel said it was rebellion like witchcraft and idolatry (v.24). Because he did not obey the Word of the Lord he would be removed being king. Saul admitted he feared the people and obeyed their voice. What a crucial thing to learn of Saul who was God's anointed.

In 1 Sam.16:13-16 we find David who was shepherd boy was anointed before God took away Saul’s position. David refused to touch Saul physically but it didn’t stop him from telling everyone the truth about him publicly.
David not raising his hand to touch (harm physically) God’s anointed is used in 1 Sam.26:9,11,23. Look at 1 Sam.26:11: tells us that David would not stretch his hand out to touch him (harm him); instead he sneaked up and took Saul’s spear and water jug. In verse 15 David rebukes Abner for not guarding Saul and says he deserved to die. Saul hears the commotion and comes out, and David rebukes Saul before all his troops, asking why he is pursuing David’s life since he is innocent -- that the king has come out to seek a flea. Saul then repented for his rash behavior and called himself a fool. David returned Saul’s possessions and said, “For the Lord delivered you into my hand but I would not stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed.” Notice what this means, not to bring physical harm.

1 Samuel 24:10 “Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed.” “And David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?”(1 Sam. 26:9)

Saul was anointed as King over Israel he had a position of rulership that was soon to be over. Knowing he was next in line David refused to physically touch the king as God’s anointed and remove him from his position prematurely. It was God, not David who would remove Saul from his position (26:8-10). We should notice an important part in this story, it was Saul who was pursuing David, hunting him down and trying to kill him. The Bible story has Saul whose position was threatened, pursuing to kill David who was innocent.

Isn’t this what we see today? Those who are in a greater position of leadership going after people who are anointed that are challenging them in what they are saying and doing as wrong. From their position they have trained people to listen to them and willing to silence their challengers. They do this by going after them with Bible threats such as “don’t touch God’s anointed” or you are committing the “blasphemy the Holy Spirit” when you speak against another “man of God.” Ignoring the fact that blasphemy meant one is saying that Jesus’ miracles were done by an unclean spirit, not about questioning another mans alleged miracles. Those of the flesh are pursuing those who are of the Spirit, just as Saul did to David. Those who are following the Spirit of the Lord go to His Word to keep themselves in the truth no matter what the opposition may say.

It’s interesting that in Rev. 6:9 John writes “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” They were killed because they held to the Word against the opposition and so they became martyrs. Those who apostatize from the Word always hate those who keep it.

We find the story of Saul ends with David kept from the Battle that Saul and Jonathan lost their lives in, instead he fought the Amalakites. An Amalakite messenger came back with torn clothes and dust on his head showing he was in mourning, David inquired of him and he told David he killed Saul. “So David said to him, “How was it you were not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died. So David said to him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the LORD's anointed.’”(2 Sam 1:13-16)

Again it is clear, to touch the anointed means to bring physical harm, most often death. But if you spiritualize it, it can mean anything you want. 2 Sam 1:17-19 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar): “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!” Each time is about those who were killed. David did not relish the fact that God's anointed was apostate and met his end, he wept.

Since most of these so called anointed teachers that come under their follower’s protection teach the Word out of context, its not surprising that they would quote a verse of Scripture removed from its correct meaning for their own self- protection. Those who shout don’t touch God’s anointed think they are doing God’s work, but they rarely ever look at the facts presented.

They listen to their teachers and do not want to hear the other side of the story. They cut themselves off from hearing the truth. And some, even when they are shown false teachings and prophecies do not care, but look to some personality who captured their loyalty. They become enemies of all reason, their own worst enemy. They do not realize they have been trained well, and like Pavlov’s dogs, react the same way each time. It's time to break free!

What are we supposed to do?

Its easy not to confront falsehood today, but it has become easy to confront those who point it out. How many people tell others not to touch the so-called anointed ever check out the claims from someone who has real concerns, and is trying to get them to read about it? I can tell you from experience, very few. Why is this? Because for the most part they can’t read the material, or should I be more specific and say, they are not allowed to. Again I ask why?

It was an apostle named Paul who called the Berean’s more noble than the others. For what reason? They looked to the Scripture to see if what Paul was teaching was accurate. Today those who protect their favorite teachers say don’t touch God’s anointed for doing this. Paul never said, “Touch not God’s anointed” or “do my prophets no harm”; you will never find an apostle teach this, nor is this found ONCE in the whole New Testament. I ask again why not?

Paul was questioned, why didn’t he say this? The apostle Paul called those who checked out what he said as noble, meaning they were a better stock than the others. How noble are you? Do you go wherever the tide goes? Are you willing to take a stand for the truth of the Word of God despite what people say, or will you follow the rest of the sheep off the cliff.

To tell people not to search the Scriptures and expose false teaching as David exposed King Saul is to be touching God’s anointed. You are stopping people who have God’s anointed word from using it correctly! Even David later on in his ministry as King accepted rebuke and correction from Nathan the prophet. He did not say, “don’t touch God’s anointed” to protect himself, and neither should those who follow their leaders do the same.

Who are the anointed?

John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Unless someone is speaking the word correctly they are not teaching the truth and it doesn’t matter if they call themselves anointed, or how big or successful a ministry they have, they are WRONG.

What do the anointed man and women of God act like? Do they stop you from going to check their teachings or anyone else’s by the Word? Of course not, Titus 1:9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

No apostle ever said they were anointed, they did not speak in this manner; “don’t touch me I’m God’s anointed.” If someone is truly anointed, they would want to encourage the people to discern what is true and what is not. They would encourage people to pursue truth no matter where it would lead. They would love the sheep enough to protect them from falsehood and want to see them grow. They would allow the sheep to learn and think for themselves. The anointing, who is the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and someone who has the Spirit of Truth will never run from seeing error but will confront it when necessary. He will give someone the truth from the Word, subsequently leading us away from error.

We also need to ask the question who is anointed? The Bible tells us the whole body of Christ is, not just some certain people in the body. 2 Cor. 1:20-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”

Let me ask those who use the phrase “touch not God’s anointed”, do you believe that only a certain teacher is anointed or can you admit that the whole body is anointed? If so, stop using this Scripture from the Old Testament as if there are only certain people anointed, like prophets or kings. Are there only a certain few leaders who are the anointed of God? Use it correctly.

The New Testament view identifies the anointed as all those who have received Jesus into their hearts and baptized into the body (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is not a certain church or group of people who are supposed leaders over the Church like the kings or prophets in the Old Testament; the whole body of Christ is anointed.

When someone insists for people not to say anything when they see something wrong, it is THEY that are coming against the anointed. For everyone shares the same anointing. Before one gives the standard cliché to protect a favorite teacher with “don’t touch my anointed” to someone who is searching what the Scripture actually says, you should think this through. It just may be that it is you who are touching the anointed Jesus, the author of truth, His Word.

The New Testament teaching is that all Christians have the same anointing, the same Holy Spirit. I Jn. 2:27 “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

How does he teach? By the Word of God, by this we know what is true and false. Prior to this John wrote “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (I Jn. 2:20-21). So if someone speaks something false about Christ (which is what John is concentrating on) or His word they are not speaking by the Spirit and not presenting truth. This is made simple enough for everyone to understand. John says they already know the truth; this was by being born again, by His teaching and the New Testament being circulated throughout the whole church.

We need to ask are they teaching the Bible from the Bible or are they teaching the Bible by another outside interpretation leading you into an experience, or possibly a spirit they think is the Holy Spirit? Doctrine keeps us in communion with Jesus. If they tell you to not bother with doctrine and all you need is love or an experience, run from this because it is a lie. The Bible states “Whosoever transgresses and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9) “That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). Where is the doctrine found? In the Scriptures of course.

Ps. 105:14-15 “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” He permitted no one to do them wrong. Who is he? God. The whole people of Israel were appointed to be a kingdom of priests and kings unto God; they were set apart to his service, it was God who protected them from physical harm. We know this is the context because v.13 states they went from nation to another, from kingdom to another people.” Prophets and the kings of Israel did not care too much about what others said about them, but they did care about what the enemies said of God. In the same sense, those who are saying this phrase today: are you protecting God’s word or a person?

It is God who protects His anointed, “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:6-7). “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed” (Psalm 28:8). If you are anointed you don’t have to make threats, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Could these anointed men who threaten others be reacting in the flesh and not in His Spirit? Apparently so!

First: we are not to judge a man and his eternal destiny which is left up to God, but if we see their teachings as destructive, the Bible tells us to judge, it is a command. So if you are telling people not to judge by repeating the Scripture “touch not my anointed” you are telling them to be disobedient to God's command. That’s the clear and simple answer to this matter. So it has absolutely nothing to do with this cliché touch not my anointed. To hold to this shows ones immaturity in the Word.

Looking at the purpose of touch not God’s anointed, excludes the concept about judging. Most people who say don’t judge will go ahead and take apart everything someone presents as they explain that we are told to judge according to the Bible. For them to say don’t judge is a judgment in itself. But they cannot see the inconsistency in what they are actually doing.
It is the word of God that we use to Judge someone’s teaching and that is not My personal judgment, but God’s, so by obeying this we are doing EXACTLY what Jesus said, to JUDGE righteously.

John 7:24 Jesus said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment”, so we see Jesus did tell us to judge. Also if one examines Mt.7:1-5 in context they find that Jesus says if you have removed the same stumbling block from your eye and can clearly then go ahead and help your brother.

2nd it appears many have listened to men more than God, for the Bible scriptures that they are quoting need to read it in context. It is the self appointed leaders have trained people to think this way and by calling themselves anointed, they have made their followers go after people who say anything about them for their protection. The problem is evident; they can only quote a few certain verses that tell people not say anything about anyone.

Peter, Paul and John did a lot of judging the Biblical way. Every second epistle written is a judgment on false teaching explaining the truth by refuting the error. In 2 Timothy 2:17 he warns of the heresies of two men by name. Later in the same epistle (4:10), Paul judges by warning them about a man named Demas. Paul did a lot of judging and evaluating when it came to false teachers. Remember this is inspired by the Holy Spirit; therefore we have a mandate to judge false doctrine.

In the epistle to the Hebrews 5:14 tells us that mature believers, those who are of “full age,” are those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern (judge) both good and evil.” It takes time to learn and grow in discernment; it is those who are babes, immature hold the position that we can’t judge. Think about it.

We are not to sit idly by when we see personal spiritual revelations change God’s Word. If men and women cannot hold to the core doctrines and instead make up new revelations or interpret the Scripture from their dreams, visions, visitations from angels or saints we are to point out this is unbiblical teaching. This is what the Bible says, “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

It's not opinion, its not chasing down a certain person because of any dislike, its a Bible doctrine that we are to practice. Those who see the error are to remove themselves from those who teach it. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom 16:17). If you say you love the Lord lets see it by obeying Him on this matter.

God has given us objective truth to live by. He has not made the truth so vague and open ended that it becomes a matter of anyone’s interpretation, the bible is not an open-ended book. He has given us clear-cut instructions that are valid and applicable today. God gave us an objective means to know and walk with Him, by living out His written Word. The sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd found in the Word, not in new words that men claim God gave them. The sheep will be drawn to the Word if they have any questions.

When someone says they are “anointed” or “led by the Spirit” but consistently teach contrary to the Word in its accurate context, you can be assured that they’re not being led by His Spirit delivering truth. This is especially important on the core doctrines. This of course does mean we must be able to teach perfectly every time. What I’m trying to convey is that it takes time to study, labor and gain spiritual understanding of the Word correctly, that is our goal.

When someone distorts and butchers the word, changing or discarding its meaning, then we can safely assume they have not spent time in the word, they do not care, or should not be teaching . When it gets bad enough, harmful enough, its time to speak up to protect the babes, the immature and the naïve from eating poison food. The only alternative is to address the public of already circulated false teaching that is undermining foundational tenets of our faith. We are supposed to be our brother’s keeper, some are to watch over the Church.

To ignore this is to have their blood on our hands (Acts 20:26), to warn them shows the same love and concern that Christ has. It's a matter of love and truth that people do the research to see if what is said is so.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Truth and Consequences: Exposing Sin in the Church

Truth and Consequences: Exposing Sin in the Church
By Bob and Gretchen Passantino

Copyright 1994 by Bob and Gretchen Passantino.

King David had a humongous problem. A problem that threatened to destroy his administration. This problem not only could destroy his career, but in doing so it could destroy the economic and social stability of the nation and leave it ripe for internal decay and external exploitation. He'd had tough problems before in his years as Commander in Chief, but this was the worst yet.
How was King David going to explain to his people that his affair with the wife of one of the army's most successful generals had gotten so complicated that he was forced to send the general to his death in a hopeless battle so he could quickly marry the new widow to legitimize their child?

The ordinary people didn't know how hard it was to run a country, to have multitudes depending on you for leadership. They didn't understand how the extraordinary stresses leaders faced almost demanded extraordinary tension relieving activities. They didn't understand how using all of one's energies to run the country left one vulnerable to what the ministers called the "sins of the flesh."

It was time for a damage control strategy meeting. King David called in his most trusted advisors for a top-level secret meeting. First to arrive was his court magician, Mike, who had parlayed a brief flirtation with the black arts into a national inspirational comedy ministry. He had been able to hide his four marriages, numerous affairs, and tall-tale telling for twenty years. He was sure to have some great ideas.

The next to arrive was Brother Jimmy, from Southern Judah. True, Jimmy wasn't as well-liked anymore since that last police stop with the prostitute in his chariot, but he did have years of experience covering up his pornographic recreational activities. He could help devise a plan for keeping the worst details out of all but the most tacky tabloids.

The West Coast Kingdom Network contingent arrived later that day. Paul and Jan were sure to give David good advice on how he could appeal to the people with a powerful "word from the Lord" and take pledges for a new temple franchise at the same time. In addition, they brought suggestions from several West Coast ministers who had managed to overcome their bad PR to form new speaking platforms, and from other national ministers who were unable to attend because of their busy crusade schedules but who advised how to prosper in the midst of human suffering and poverty.

Last to arrive was Prophet Hal, brimming with ideas about how David's "little problem" was actually a sign that the Messiah was near and that the people should be concentrating on the refurbishing of the temple instead of David's personal life.
The top secret summit lasted all week. The media tried to crack security, but the usual "high level administration sources" were curiously silent. Nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors, except that the Jerusalem Kosher Pizza Hovel was making a fortune on late night deliveries.

When the king's press conference was finally announced, media from all the world jammed the pomegranate garden awaiting the king's presence. King David's communications advisor, George the Greek, strode to the podium.

"Members of the press. I have a brief statement from the palace, then King David will give his statement. Copies of both statements will be available as you leave, as well as 8x10 glossies. Now, to the statement: 'The palace announces that King David has instituted a new policy of cooperation with the armed services and chosen as liaison between the palace and the Hexagon Mrs. Bathsheba Uriah, whose late husband, General Uriah, sacrificed his life for his country in the recent battles supervised by Secretary of Defense Joab. This is a wonderful opportunity for this administration to confirm its commitment to supporting women in strategic leadership roles. In an effort to further reduce the national debt, King David has additionally decided to marry Mrs. Uriah so that she can perform her duties without salary. Thank you.'"

The murmurs of the reporters had started to die as King David walked briskly out the palace door, into the garden, and to the podium, flanked by his advisors. The morning sun glinted from the special highlights applied to his hair. No shine reflected off his carefully powdered cheeks and forehead. He turned his best side to the press artists and gave the magic smile that had won him the popularity of the people.

"My fellow Israelites. Today marks the beginning of a new era in God's kingdom. After careful consideration and agonizing self-sacrifice, I stand before you fully prepared to continue my responsibilities as the Lord's servant according to the Lord's calling. There have been rumors about my relationship with Bathsheba, wife of the late General Uriah. I tell you in all sincerity today that these rumors are vicious and are tearing down the trust relationship I worked so hard to build. A man in my position expects attacks from the Enemy, and Satan has been working overtime on this one. Sometimes all it takes for a war to be lost is for the people to lose trust in their leadership because of evil rumors and destructive gossip. Well, I think better of you all than that. I know you will reject any such malicious talk and not believe anything you hear unless it comes from my lips.

Over the years, God has used me in mighty ways to further his kingdom. All of you know how as a young boy God gave me the power to kill the giant Goliath with my little slingshot. And those of you who've read my best-selling biography know the words God directed the prophet Samuel to speak when he anointed me as king. I waited patiently for the old administration to finish its term and for King Saul to die before I took office. Israel has never been so prosperous or so safe as it has been under my rule (by God's grace, of course).

Now, all of us have our little imperfections. Take my magician advisor here, Mike. He got in a little trouble a while back for using exaggeration and embellishment in his comedy routine, and he learned a lot about God's forgiveness for his moral lapses, but he's still going strong -- he didn't let those little things keep him from the ministry God called him to. And look at Brother Jimmy. I think people appreciate the struggles he goes through with demons. It isn't easy to keep on preaching against pornography when demons are harassing you at every turn with the stuff. And my dear friends Paul and Jan, along with the dozens of ministers God has prospered through their crusades, they know that when God entrusts you with 30 million pieces of silver, Satan can tempt you to use it for personal gain. And yet they allow the Lord to use their mansions, chariot limousines, Nile barges, and jewels as an inspiration to their "partners" to give even more to the Lord's work so everybody can prosper just like them.

Frankly, we're all sinners. I apologize for being merely human. I don't want you all to think I've gone Holy-wood on you -- I would never do that. In fact, I think my human shortcomings should reassure you that I haven't forgotten what it's like to be struggling with sin. I'm just a simple country boy who's been called by the Lord to the most important leadership position in His kingdom, and my communications team just hasn't caught up to the big league yet.
I'm proud to announce my marriage to Bathsheba, and her appointment to liaison with the armed services. I know this move will strengthen our nation, save us tax money, and restore in you the confidence you once had in my administration.

I close with advice from my dear Brother Hal here, who years ago wrote prophetically that demonic activity, Satanic temptations, and even the moral failings of Israelite leaders are a sign to rejoice because the Messiah is right around the corner. I am confident that Brother Hal and his wives, as well as my wives, join me in encouraging you -- The Messiah is Coming! Rejoice!"
As King David gazed out over the media crowd his smile broadened into a grin. The glazed eyes, the vacuous smiles, the reporters' blank notebooks all testified to David's triumph. God's kingdom was saved!

Exchanging Truth for Lies

When the Church allows compromised Christian leaders to explain away sin, compromise truth, and sin with impunity, we exchange truth for lies. We become no better than idolaters, people whose credulous adoration of compromised leaders fulfill what Paul calls exchanging "the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man . . . exchang[ing] the truth of God for a lie" (Rom. 1:22, 25). Our recasting of King David's story from 2 Samuel is a lie, but sadly, it represents a popular attitude in the Church today toward sin in Christian leadership.

Unfortunately, although most Christians sincerely want truth and want to follow biblical ethics, we too often listen to such lies from our leadership and instead of denouncing sin and demanding accountability, we parrot excuses like those given here and allow compromised leaders to continue in leadership.

Biblical Accountability

The Bible clearly states that Christian leaders should be accountable both to the Word of God and also to God's people, whom the leader serves. Among the requirements Paul describes for a Christian leader are that he be "blameless," and "of good behavior" (1 Tim. 3:2). A Christian leader must "have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:7). This does not mean that the Christian leader is simply good at covering up his sin. Christian leaders must display integrity and honesty -- they must prove themselves worthy of Christians' trust.

One would think that our outspoken faithfulness to truth telling would extend to telling the truth about sin within the Church. And yet at this point many Christians shrink from truth telling, instead hiding behind empty platitudes such as "don't judge;" "forgive and forget;" "don't shoot your own wounded;" "look at all the people who came to the Lord through this ministry;" etc. Sadly, we have unbiblically acted as though telling the truth contradicts biblical concern for a sinning Christian leader.

Christians who cry out, "It's wrong to judge," are ignoring the context of the passage (Matt. 7:1-2), which does not forbid judging, but instead insists on judgment according to God's word. In addition, a judgmental criticism of judgement is self-refuting. If it is wrong for a Christian to publicly criticize a Christian leader whose testimony is false or who is immoral, then isn't the critic also wrong for publicly criticizing the Christian? Paul points out this contradiction among some Jews, saying, "You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" (Rom. 2:22). One who speaks English to utter the sentence "I can't utter a word in English" has refuted himself. Aren't those who accuse Christian investigative journalism of being the "Christian Gestapo" themselves acting Gestopo-ish?
Assuming that integrity and accountability exclude compassion unfairly brands truth telling as "shooting" and ignores that "the wounded" have been wounded by their own sin.

Christians who excuse false testimonies and immorality by pointing to the "fruits" of a ministry deny Paul's forceful argument in Romans 3:8 that to do evil that good may come is slanderous and contrary to biblical ethics.

To equate forgiveness with absolution from personal responsibility is to cheapen biblical forgiveness and to deny biblical justice.

Christian Leadership

The objections against revealing a Christian leader's sin seem to imply that it is possible for one to have a valid Christian ministry or profession, and yet have a private life of corruption. However, the Bible explains that it is not possible for one's sinful conduct to have no negative effect on one's profession of godliness. Titus 1:6-8 summarizes the same qualifications for a Christian leader Paul gave in 1 Timothy 3, but goes on to condemn one who says he believes, and yet whose works deny his profession of faith:

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work (1:15-16).
To attempt to combine immorality with godliness to produce spiritual fruit is completely contrary to scriptural teaching. In fact, Paul ranks it with "profane and vain babblings" and warns Timothy to avoid "contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Tim. 6:20).

In addition, Jesus openly rebuked Peter when Peter argued against Jesus going to the cross (Matt. 16:22, 23). Paul writes Titus that it is the responsibility of the church to hold the leader accountable for his sin: "Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). Paul also commands Christians to rebuke sinning leaders publicly, "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear" (1 Tim. 5:20). Paul took his own advice, as recorded in Galatians 2, and publicly rebuked Peter "before them all" (Gal. 2:14).

If we neglect to uncover sin within the Church, we rob the Church of the integrity it should expect from its members. The Church becomes weak through compromise, and the leader becomes weak because of his or her immorality. Fallen leaders betray the trust of those they lead. Maturity in the Lord, which is an essential part of qualifying one for spiritual leadership, can be confirmed only by an established pattern of resisting sin and walking faithfully with God, family, and others.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 commands us to "test all things," and Paul commended the Bereans for "searching the scriptures" to test what he himself had taught them (Acts 17:11). The Christian whose life is characterized by truth telling must support spiritual leaders whose lives exemplify Christian maturity, and must hold those leaders accountable. If a Christian leader is chosen whose life is bound by immorality, the Christian has the obligation then to expose that sin publicly since the leader is public and his actions impact the church he leads.

Fallen leaders damage the trust relationship established between them and their followers, a relationship mirroring the trusting relationship we are to have with the Lord. In addition, they break the trust relationship Peter tells us to have with the world; that is, we are to live so that even the world will note our trustworthiness and be unable to speak against us, but will, instead, glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).

It is unethical for Christians to cover up for leaders who have achieved their position through false qualifications or stories, or who are living immorally. Can the Church claim a higher ethical standard than the world when we adopt a "code of silence" worthy of the most pernicious organized crime conspiracy or even some suspected invisible satanic ring?

Some people in society have a greater responsibility for honesty and integrity than others. This does not mean that it's less wrong for one person to lie than another, but a public leader has a greater responsibility because the consequences of his failure have greater ramifications. A lay person who has a mistaken medical opinion will not affect the lives and health of as many people as a doctor with a misunderstanding of medicine.

An individual in a position of public trust surrenders his privacy regarding his suitability and trustworthiness. He has asked the public to trust him for specific reasons or qualifications. Those reasons and qualifications are open to public scrutiny. If the leader is trustworthy, they will withstand examination. If he is not, close examination will reveal their inadequacies. Christians who are committed to truth must preserve this fundamental right and obligation to know in whom they are asked to trust.

Forsaking Lies for the Truth

The examples of Jesus and his disciples' commitment to truthfulness and integrity give us our model for holding our Christian leaders accountable. If we do not expose false testimonies and revisionist histories, especially when they are propagated by Christians, then all truth claims and all historical knowledge comes into doubt. We can have no certainty of the truth of Christianity or the objective reality of the resurrection. In the first century, the apostle Paul could claim that the resurrection "was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). Should Christians be so careless with the truth that we need to hide our corrupt leaders "in a corner" to preserve the faith rather than speak the truth and call those corrupt leaders to repentance and reconciliation? God forbid!

Good discernment and moral accountability should be practiced among believers. The Old Testament establishes this pattern. Instructions concerning false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 assume the prophet arises from the congregation of Israel. The passage admonishes the people to banish idolatry from their families, "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend" (v. 6). Deuteronomy 13 instructs the Israelites how to practice good discernment within their own communities: "you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly." If the community is idolatrous, it must be dealt with publicly (v. 14). Psalm 50:18 states that one who sees a crime and doesn't report it has moral culpability.

The New Testament continues the theme of good discernment within the believing community, most notably when the Bereans test Paul's teachings (Acts 17:11) and the Thessalonians are commanded to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Judgment is not excluded, but unrighteous judgment is, as Jesus declared: "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:24).

Jesus expelled the money changers from the temple, denounced the Pharisees and scribes, and rebuked the teachers of the Law. He reprimanded Peter in front of the other disciples (Matthew 16:22-23). Paul followed Jesus' example and named false teachers in the Church (2 Timothy 2:14-19) and openly criticized Peter (Galatians 2:11,14).

Paul warns that false teachers will arise within the Church, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). The false teachers of Jude are said to "have secretly slipped in among you" (v. 4).

The Biblical Pattern for Accountability

When immorality occurs in the Church (Titus 1:15-16), the Bible says to deal with it truthfully and constructively. The procedure for public leaders caught in false teaching or immorality is to be rebuked publicly "so that the others may take warning" (1 Timothy 5:20). A congregation member who sins privately against another Christian is not to be exposed publicly unless he persists in sin, in which case he is to be rebuked before the church and we are to "treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17). Paul follows this in 1 Corinthians 5:3-12 concerning the Christian who persisted in his sexual immorality, and affirms that judgment belongs to the Church: "I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present . . . . What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you" (v. 3, 12).

Christian leaders are accountable to God's people, whom the leader serves, and should be "above reproach," "respectable," and "able to teach" (1 Timothy 3:2). A Christian leader must "have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:7). A Christian leader who is a false teacher or immoral should be rebuked to encourage reform (Titus 1:13), and cannot dichotomize his ministry from his life, expecting God to bless his preaching while privately he sins; he is "disqualified for every good work" (vv. 15-16).

Telling the truth about false teaching or immorality in the Church corresponds with the ethics and truth characterizing the Church. The Church is "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13- 14) only if characterized by truthfulness (v. 11) and righteousness (v. 16). Each Christian leader has an obligation to "hold firmly the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9). No Christian is happy when false teaching or immorality arise, but we cannot neglect responsibility, doctrinal and moral accountability.

Christians sometimes are uncomfortable with criticism within the Church because they wrongly assume that public criticism, because it is painful, is also destructive. On the contrary, the "pain" of biblically conducted confrontation produces individual growth (1 Timothy 4:16), encourages others to Christian maturity (1 Timothy 5:19-20), promotes Church strength (Ephesians 4:15), and preserves the Church's reputation in the world (1 Peter 2:12).

A Call for Christian Integrity

The consequences of compromising biblical truth and ethics are devastating. Like an insidious cancer, lies and immorality eat away at the church. Tender believers lose their faith, the associates of the sinner fall into sin themselves, non-believers mock the church and reject the gospel. While covering up for a compromised leader, or tolerating sin in the midst of the congregation may appear at first glance to be loving, compassionate, and "good PR," in actuality it is like a lung cancer patient continuing to smoke.

We cannot condone continuing sin within the Church. We must expose it, deal with it biblically, call sinners to repentance, and then extend the forgiveness, discipleship, restitution, and restoration offered from God's Word.

Sadly, Mike Warnke's problems are not unusual in the Church today. When we began ministry in 1972, we had already experienced some of the duplicity too prevalent among Christian leaders. Gretchen had quit working on one ministry's newspaper because the editor, who was also an evangelist, kept making advances to her, suggesting that the burden of his ministry caused him to need special comfort. Bob, who is nearly blind in one eye, had struggled with what to say when a traveling evangelist prayed for his healing and then announced to the audience that Bob was healed -- but he wasn't. As new Christians, we assumed that these were isolated instances and that the Church wouldn't ordinarily tolerate such moral compromise.

Now, almost twenty years later, we've worked on numerous investigative pieces regarding compromised Christian leaders. Crying Wind, Alberto Rivera, John Todd, Michael Esses, Joey LaVey, Lauren Stratford, Troy Lawrence, Mike Warnke, Bob Larson, and dozens of others have come under temporary Church scrutiny for their ministry and moral lapses. Many were completely defensive when challenged, and many responded much like our fictional King David. No true confession, no real repentance, certainly no biblically mandated restitution and restoration. Tragically, most of them continue in active ministry.

The Christian Church cannot compromise forever by covering up and excusing sin within its leadership. Continued toleration of immorality will transform the Church into what Jesus described as white-washed graves -- pristine on the outside, and full of rotting flesh and decaying bone inside.

The true biblical story of King David is quite different than what we created here. In 2 Samuel 12:1- 14, Nathan rebukes David for his sin with Bathsheba, and God attaches consequences to David's actions that follow him throughout the rest of his life and reign as king. But most important is David's response to God's rebuke through Nathan. Let each of us join David in his confession before God:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

. . . .
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you
(Psalm 51:1-13).

----- Original Message -----
From: Gretchen Passantino-Coburn
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:00 PM
Subject: Re: Permission to post your articles in our Blog.

You may post the 2 articles you listed below on your blog with the following conditions:

(1) They must be posted in full, without edit, omission, or change;
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(3) They must say you are reprinting them with our permission.

If you would like to post any other articles, please make the request for each requested title.

Sincerely in Christ,
Gretchen Passantino
Answers In Action