Thursday, June 18, 2009

Daddy's Empty Chair

A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me." he said.

"No, who are you?" said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked, "I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair..." said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?"
Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

"I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me,

'Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because He promised, "I will be with you always".

Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now.'

"So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the storyand encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

"Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house about two o'clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?"

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

Here's a POEM specially for ALL DADDYS -

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,
He called it... Dad

By Unknown

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Healing at 35,000 Feet . . .

Administrator's Note: We have obtained permission from Pastor Jim himself to post his testimony here.

Amazing true story!

I'm Jim Rogers, Associate Pastor at Bridge Way Church, Denver, USA. Our church has a passion to see the Kingdom of God ministered by everyday saints to our city and the nations. We are part of the relational affiliation of churches called Global Legacy.

In January 2008, I was flying home from Europe after ministering in Africa at Leaders' Conferences for the release of Kingdom healing and the Father's love. Little did I know that God was wanting to show me that the power of the Kingdom was coming home to the US in new ways and that he intended to heal many on the airplane.

We were about an hour into the air when the stewardesses gave us drinks. I was drinking Diet Coke and wearing a white shirt when accidentally the stewardess bumped my arm and pop went everywhere. My shirt was stained and I felt some frustration. But I immediately felt the presence of God come on me and I knew I was not to get angry. The stewardess helped as best she could clean up the mess. She was very surprised I didn't lose it. I realize now that the enemy was trying to stop what God had in mind.

I looked across the aisle and saw a lady squirming in her seat. I wondered what her problem was. The Lord told me she had hurt her back two weeks earlier and He wanted me to pray for her. I was tired and just wanted to read my book and watch a movie, so I initially told the Lord "No."

Isn't it funny ~ God often wants to use us when we least feel like it? But, God wouldn't let me go. After quite a few exchanges with the Lord I finally said, "OK fine, Lord, I will pray for her."

I leaned across the aisle and asked the lady if she had hurt her back two weeks earlier. That got her attention and she asked how I knew that. I explained that the Lord had told me, and I also told her about my recent travels in Africa. Then I asked if I could pray for her. She said, "Yes." Then I asked if I could lay my hand on her shoulder, she looked at me and said, "Oh, you mean now?" I told her I didn't believe God wanted her in pain for the next 8 hours.

As I prayed for her, the Holy Spirit fell on her and she fell out of her seat and landed on the floor of the aisle. The stewardess came around the corner greatly concerned and asked if we needed a doctor. I was trying to explain what had happened, that God was ministering to her, and that the lady was fine.

As we talked, the lady came out of the Spirit. The stewardess asked if she was ok. The lady said, "Yes I'm fine and, hey, my back doesn't hurt." I started to explain about the lady's back when she cut me off. She told the stewardess all about how she hurt her back on ice two weeks earlier and that this pastor prayed for her and she was totally healed. Caught off guard and aware God was present, the stewardess said she had hurt her knee 4 weeks ago and was in constant pain. She asked if I would pray for her. I said yes. Then she got a real serious look and asked if she would fall down. I said I didn't know. I prayed for her also and God healed her knee on the spot.

As I got up to go back to my seat, there were three people lined up in the aisle asking for prayer. Apparently others had noticed what was going on! I felt the Lord urging me to continue. As I started to pray for the first lady, I suddenly heard over the intercom the stewardess that I had prayed for saying that there was a pastor onboard who had been in Africa praying for healing, and that when he prayed for her and the woman with the bad back both had been healed. She said: "If anyone needs healing they should come to the galley between coach and first class and he would pray for them."

I thought to myself, here we go”! Then a large gentle-man came up to me. He was from England. He asked if he could catch for me. I thought, Thank You Lord, at least there is someone else here who knows what is going on. For the next two hours we had a healing service. At one point the catcher came to me and said, "You need to slow down, I am running out of places to put people." I looked in the galley and saw people lying everywhere.

We had 5 salvations during our time, including one young man from Saudi Arabia. He was coming to the US for surgery on his torn rotator cuff. He also had other damage to his shoulder. God healed him and I told him it was Jesus who had touched him. He said, "I know Jesus."

I said to him, "Yes, you know who He is, but you need to know Him as the Saviour." As we talked he accepted the Lord. One of his traveling companions was a lady who came to me and said she was a Christian and would see that he got into a church.

The people who didn't come forward for prayer were wide-eyed and looking over their seats throughout the cabin to see what was going on. When all was finished, I sat down and I picked up my book and laughed to myself. The book was ‘Face to Face with God,’ by Bill Johnson. I thought to myself, God certainly does have a sense of humour for this indeed was a Bill Johnson moment ~ everyday saints doing the stuff!!

Praise God for His wonderful love and desire to use any one of us in His service!
Feel free to share this testimony if you feel it would be an encouragement to others.

Jim Rogers
Associate Pastor
BridgeWay Church Denver, CO

Sunday, June 7, 2009

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. The 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).1

This article is published here with permission.
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lessons from the General Motors Bankruptcy

Written by Steve Marr
Thursday, 04 June 2009

The bankruptcy of General Motors contains lessons for us all as GM has gone from being the dominant corporation in the world to the bottom of the heap. King Solomon taught, “Take my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than the choicest gold” (Proverbs 8:10 NASB).

All bankruptcies are painful, and this has and will hit many people hard, but we can learn much from this tragic situation.

#1—Most change happens over a long period of time.
Absalom led a revolt against his father and forced King David to flee Jerusalem. To the casual observer, the revolt sprang up suddenly, but in reality Absalom had been working for a very long time to turn people against his father (See 2 Samuel 15:1-12). The hearts of many people were turned, one at a time, over several years.

The point is, when we see changes in our business environment, we need to take action. David could have restrained Absalom easily if he had taken action earlier, but he waited and ended up fighting a major battle later.

Over time, GM’s market share steadily declined. No single year or event shaped this trend. It was just a gradual decline, and relatively small changes were made: Saturn was introduced, foreign car makers were bought and sold, and a plunge into technology with the purchase of Hughes Electronics and EDS created excitement but never stemmed the decline in market share and sales.

Giles Bookstore had been in the same location for 30 years and earned a stable profit. However, over the past five years other businesses started moving away, which resulted in a steady decline in foot traffic and a corresponding decline in sales and profits. Joe Giles didn’t want to move. He tried more advertising, a store remodel, sale promotions, and sharper displays … but sales continued to decline. The fact was that the bookstore relied on foot traffic and foot traffic was just not there. Joe needed to invest in a new location that would gain an increase in traffic rather than continuing to invest in a location that was on its way down.

#2—We can easily be in denial.
Over the years as market share eroded little by little GM gave a lot of reasons, but denied the reality the continued market share loss needed to be fixed, not explained away each year. Late last year General Motors announced bankruptcy was not an option and would not happen, more denial.

Likewise, Giles Bookstore failed to grasp the reality that customers were moving away and that traffic was slowing down. The extra efforts helped a little bit, but it
was not enough to offset the customer decline. King Solomon asked, “How long will you fools fight the facts?” (Proverbs 1:22 NLT).

Both General Motors and Giles Bookstore failed to understand that far more radical change was needed. If either business truly grasped the facts of the declining business model over many years, far more radical action would have been taken.

#3—Deferring costs may hurt more than help.
General Motors agreed over the past half century to pay very generous retirement benefits to employees. In the early years this seemed like an easy way for the company to settle contract negotiations. The labor unions claimed the great benefits won and GM avoided paying out the money until a future date. However, the massive pension and healthcare costs became a legacy cost that would be a millstone around the company’s neck.

Giles Bookstore also started deferring expenses by not doing building maintenance, cutting back on inventory, and not upgrading their computer system. This created additional problems that made the bookstore even less efficient. Roof maintenance was ignored, causing major leak resulting in $75,000 worth of damages. All costs, whether paid today or in the future, are real and should be carefully considered.

The current challenging economy helped push GM and Giles Bookstore over the edge and into bankruptcy, but the events that forced bankruptcy could have been altered if management had acted earlier.

As a native Detroiter and recent GM vehicle purchaser, I take no delight in the misfortune of General Motors or its employees, retirees, shareholders, bondholders, and others who have lost a great deal. While management, government, the United Auto Workers and others share the responsibility for this failure we can learn key lessons from the tragic situation that apply to our businesses.

To read more articles by Steve Marr click here

Monday, June 1, 2009

Helpful Tips For Daily Living

'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'

Try to Practice this daily:

1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule or that will compromise your mental health.
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest.
18. Eat right.
19 Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus ..'
27. Laugh.
28. Laugh some more!
29 Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego.
33 Talk less; listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.

When we learn to practice good habits,
'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31)