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Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association and Renew America has published an open letter to Louie Giglio essentially telling him he has been fuzzy on his current view of homosexuality.  I publish it hear in its entirity since it was a public letter.  I’d love to hear your comments.  I have some… but I’d love to hear yours.  🙂 Here’s the letter: Dear Pastor Giglio, As a former pastor, I have admired your work for many years. Your winsomeness and appealing demeanor have made you a very effective communicator of the unchanging truth of the gospel. I applaud you especially for your passion for the youth of our nation. You have formed a true and abiding connection with America’s spiritually hungry millennials as evidenced by the 60,000 young men and women who turned out for your New Year’s Eve weekend rally in Atlanta just three weeks ago. I applaud you as well for your outstanding work in fighting the scourge of human trafficking, which is an unmitigated evil. Atlanta is the hub of sex trafficking in the United States, and you are to be honored for taking the fight to the forces of darkness right in your own backyard. It was your noble work in combating sex slavery that rightly drew the attention of President Obama’s inaugural committee to you, and led to your invitation to offer the benediction at the end of the inauguration ceremony. Yet, when a sermon you delivered 15 years ago surfaced, a sermon in which you unhesitatingly affirmed a biblical view of sexuality, you were unceremoniously dumped by the White House in a McCarthyite display of religious bigotry. Your comments in response to this display of bullying by the president have left many of us who share your values wondering where you stand today on the issue of homosexuality. For instance, when you emphasize that the sermon in question was “from 15-20 years ago,” you create the impression that it no longer represents your views, and that you, as the president famously claims to have done, have “evolved” on one of the preeminent moral issues of our time. When you tell the nation, “Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years,” you are suggesting that you have abandoned the field as our culture battles over the definition of marriage and the family. In your statement, you refer to this “fight” as an “issue not of our choosing,” again implying that fighting to protect the institution of natural marriage and the natural family is not a battle in which you want to engage. But sometimes, Louie, you don’t get to choose your battles. Sometimes battles choose you, and this is one of those times. So we must know: have you changed your view on the issue of homosexuality? Do you no longer regard it is a sin? Your failure to address this question clearly and forthrightly in this controversy leaves many of us confused. It is imperative that you clarify your current position. God has chosen you to be his mouthpiece at this critical juncture in American history on this issue of paramount importance. Surely you, as a perceptive cultural leader, understand that the homosexual agenda represents the greatest threat to the institution of marriage and to religious liberty in our time. Your own experience illustrates that. You yourself have become only the latest in a long string of victims whose freedom of speech and religion have been shredded because of our culture’s determination to call good what God has called evil. Every advance of the homosexual agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty. You have become the new Rosa Parks, sent to the back of the cultural bus because you are considered socially unacceptable. You have meekly allowed yourself not just to be sent to the back of the bus but thrown off the bus entirely instead of standing your ground as Ms. Parks did. You could have, and should have, said, “Mr. President, you have invited me to offer the benediction at your inauguration, and I have accepted that invitation. I will not withdraw. If you want to disinvite me because of my unapologetic stand for the word of God, that is your prerogative, but you will have to throw me off the platform yourself. I’m not going to do it for you.” In your statement to your church family, you say, “The issue of homosexuality (which a particular message of mine some 20 years ago addressed) is one of the most difficult our nation will navigate.” What do you mean by this? If, as you suggest, this is a difficult issue to “navigate,” does not our nation need experienced navigators such as yourself, who can steer this ship of state away from the cliffs of moral debauchery? It looks as though you have abandoned your post on the bridge right when your voice was required to make the course correction our culture so desperately needs. We are headed for the shoals, and our nation has turned its lonely eyes to you. And you have been silent. When you say, “[I]ndividuals’ rights of freedom, and the collective right to hold differing views on any subject is a critical balance we, as a people, must recover and preserve,” this sounds dangerously close to moral relativism. You seem to be saying that you have no right to challenge their values. You seem to be saying all values of are equal worth and validity. But, Louie, President Obama is not disagreeing with you. He is disagreeing with God. And you have a profound moral obligation to defend his truth and speak truth to power at this time. You go on to say that if people listened to your sermons over the last decade, they would “most likely conclude that I am not easily characterized as being opposed to people – any people.” When you say this, you create the impression that to be against homosexual behavior is to be against homosexual people rather than for them. But Louie, surely you know that if we love people we will love them enough to tell them the truth about behaviors that can leave them diseased, dead, and separated from God for eternity. How is it a loving thing to refuse to warn people about sin that has disastrous consequences both for time and eternity? Your sermon from long ago struck the perfect balance. You offered homosexuals life-giving forgiveness and life-giving power to leave their self-destructive lifestyle and find hope and transformation in the person of Jesus Christ. So we must ask you directly, and the nation deserves an answer: Do you still believe that homosexuality is a sin from which man may be saved but also must be saved? If you do still believe this, then why have you not said so? The eyes and ears of an entire nation are open to you at this critical moment, and you have been given a once-in-a-lifetime platform to be God’s man with God’s word for a deceived and deluded culture. Will you seize the moment? It is not too late. I urge you to unambiguously affirm the position you advocated in your sermon. Your convictions were based squarely on the unchanging standards of the word of God. We need to know that you still stand where you once stood. Our nation desperately needs a clear, unambiguous word from God at this moment in our history, and he has chosen you for that task. To this point, it appears as if you are shirking your heavenly duty. I urge to you to respond to God’s call to be God’s man for this hour. As you of course know, our youth are at severe risk in our culture because of the normalization of homosexuality. You know from your work in human trafficking that boys are often subjected to sexual slavery in order to serve the depraved whims of homosexual peophiles. You know that HIV/AIDS is devastating the health of our young men. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 87% of the young men between 13 and 24 who have HIV/AIDS contracted it through having sex with men. You have the opportunity right now to alert a nation of young men to the dangers of homosexual behavior, the same dangers cited longed ago in Romans 1. I beg you to seize the day. Martin Luther long ago said this: “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” Louie, God has stationed you in the very gap through which the forces of sexual perversity are flooding our society. Will you be the man who stands in that gap before God on behalf of the land? Your window of opportunity is rapidly closing, and may be shut altogether by the end of this week. Carpe diem. Your brother in our common faith, Bryan Fischer // Read more here… So… what do YOU think of this letter?  Necessary?
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube

Confession. I’m an elder. And I’m a jerk. So this article resonated with me.  It’s by Jonathan Leeman and discusses attitudes of elders during meetings.  Jonathan writes: I trust this is not true of all churches, but I have discovered that elder meetings can have an unexpectedly difficult social dynamic. There you sit at the table with a number of godly men. You are hashing out this or that issue. And somehow the room feels tense, even political! “Why is he contradicting me?” “Is he just posturing?” “Why did he say it like that?” “What a jerk!” Truth be told, you can see my own small-heartedness and sin in such responses. But I am confident I am not alone. Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned about the social dynamic of elder meetings: fear of man sometimes keeps us from saying the things we should say, and fear of man sometimes provokes us to say things we shouldn’t. That is, sometimes we fail to say what we should say because we are afraid of saying something different, something wrong. But sometimes we speak more than we should, or harsher than we should, because we are afraid of losing control or losing the argument. We think persuading the brothers depends upon us. So we push too hard. We clutch our ideas too tightly, because we are afraid of losing face. And that is just another form of fear of man. He then gives 9 things to consider when speaking up in an elder meeting.  Good stuff… check it out here…
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How is a guy supposed to pray? Joel Hunter offers five prayers that God will always answer (in a recent post at MinistryToday): 1:”Lord, get me out of this temptation!” Believe it or not, when we earnestly pray this prayer, we have to climb over God’s impediments to sin! 2: “Lord, amaze me with a glimpse of the supernatural.” As shallow as this sounds, this isn’t the same as a generation always looking for signs. This prayer is a request to see God’s hand in our lives and appreciate His nearness. He loves to reveal Himself above all rational explanation, but we do not usually ask or look. 3:”Lord, show me better ways to love and serve.” Most guys are bored with their own routines and are frustrated with their own lack of creativity. Why not ask God to break you out of your rut?  A word of caution: If you pray this prayer, you will discover that people are yelling at you for a reason. It is God’s ventriloquism trying to get you to see a new perspective. 4: “Lord, use me for Your purpose in this situation.” The great adequacy of God is that He can use us when we do not know what to say or do or even think! Many times we are reluctant to enter into a potential place of ministry because we think we surely would mess it up. 5: “Lord, glorify Your name.” There are many times when I have no idea what God wants me to pray. I can see the good and bad in each alternative. via Joel Hunter: 5 Prayers God Always Answers. Anything you’d add to the list?
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Interesting story: An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses. The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health. But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine. ‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”. ‘Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not “curable” as a disease because it is a “choice driven” by the person.’ Bell said he uses EAP to identify how a person got ‘involved’ in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem. He said: ‘Homosexuality is a secondary effect from a single, or multiple, primary events in a person’s life.’ When asked if the therapy ever worked, or if it was even valid, the pastor said ‘it is not now, nor has it ever been, in question’. SOURCE Thoughts? Todd

The response has been wide and varied in the religious community about the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Here are some of the responses I was able to find on the internet this morning: Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral:
The Christian community, indeed, the entire American faith community, can no longer tolerate this persisting and escalating gun violence against our people. Enough is enough,” said Hall, who is the dean of the cathedral… The best way in my thinking to mourn the Sandy Hook shooting is to mobilize the faith community for gun control.”
Mike Huckabee:
When we ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place for carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability?
Max Lucado:
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence. Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene. Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger. This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Evangelist Ray Comfort hopes people will watch his new internet movie to find the answer:
‘Genius’ points to what every murderer has in common, something the ‘experts’ either don’t recognize or avoid talking about. But it’s there… Something tragic is happening in our country, and most people don’t know what it is. Those who want to understand why these tragedies are occurring–and are likely to continue to occur–should watch the free movie.
John Piper:
…the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved. To see our need for a Savior. To humble ourselves in repentance for the God-diminishing bitterness of our hearts. To turn to Christ in desperate need, and to treasure his forgiveness, his transforming, and his friendship.
Brady Boyd (Pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, site of a deadly shooting a few years back):
I am a gun owner and have been all my life, but I realize it is too easy for some disturbed people to buy them in our sporting good stores. If there can be helpful conversations between the mental health community and our legislators resulting in laws that could eliminate this from our society, then count me in for support… Let’s have these difficult conversations, starting in our homes and across the table from our friends, but let’s make sure we are tackling the root of the issue and not just the fruit.
Albert Mohler:
The Christian must affirm the grace of moral restraint, knowing that the real question is not why some isolated persons commit such crimes, but why such massacres are not more common. We must be thankful for the restraint of the law, operating on the human conscience. Such a crime serves to warn us that putting a curve in the law will inevitably produce a curve in the conscience. We must be thankful for the restraining grace of God that limits human evil and, rightly understood, keeps us all from killing each other.
Greg Laurie:
“The experts will opine on why this happened. All I can say is this was pure evil. The heartlessness and wickedness of this man that did the shooting is really unimaginable…I know from personal experience that the pain of losing a child is a fate worse than death for a parent… At times like this we must reflect on the essential message of Christmas which is Immanuel has come. Immanuel means God is with us.”
How has this story affected you and your church? Did you take time out of your services yesterday to deal with this story? Is your church taking any additional steps to monitor security or reach out to the people affected by this tragedy? I’d love to hear your story… Todd  

I have heard many times, “we never thought it would happen to us”. Of course, the only people that ever say that are people that it happened to. 🙂 Jared Wilson has some great ideas of what YOUR church should do to protect yourself from abuse and charges of abuse in your church.  These are great suggestions.  You really need to act on these before you find yourself as ‘one of those people’ who didn’t think it would ever happen to them: 1. All employees and all childcare and youth volunteers, or anyone else who has regular contact with children in the church or as a representative of the church, ought to undergo a criminal background check as thoroughly as possible. 2. A church should have a membership structure and a church should exercise church discipline. 3. Churches ought to have a “safe sanctuary” policy in place. Get consultation with an outside firm if necessary, but have a thorough, thoughtful plan in place that “intentionalizes” safety for children and others at risk. 4. Every officer in the church should have real accountability. To elders, to the congregation, to real people with real authority in the church body, and to a network or denominational board outside the local body if the church is part of one. And this must be real accountability, real authority, not figureheads or “yes men.” 5. It must be taught to pastors and counselors that confidentiality is a matter of discernment. Pastors are not priests or lawyers or doctors. They are not bound to confidentiality, nor should they be if someone is in danger. In matters of abuse, it must be taught that confidentiality should be employed only if it genuinely protects a victim, not simply because it will protect a church’s reputation or alternately out of some spiritualized fear of hurting an abuser. 6. On that note, we must educate our church what grace is, what repentance is, what forgiveness is, and what reconciliation is. What do they look like? We must understand that the gospel is often a severe mercy to abusers, even genuinely repentant ones, and so it means consequences — disciplinary in the church, legal outside — and accountability. 7. A church must be honest about what it can and can’t do. Too many churches assume help found outside the church body is by definition “worldly” or that all problems must be handled totally in-house. This is foolishness. 8. The discipleship culture of a church needs transparency and the welcome of grace. It must be a safe place to not be okay. This must be initiated and modeled by those in leadership. Jared share a couple more points and expounds on the ones above more here. Put this on your board agenda.  It’s THAT important! Todd

This is a great example of how NOT to run your church finances, or your personal finances for that matter. Eddie Long has had a rough couple of years… various sexual allegations with young men that were settled out of court, declining membership at his megachurch, and now a divorce… which is bringing new details into view of how convoluted the finances are between Long’s church and his personal finances. And the local TV news investigative reporter is all over the story.  Lesson:  Keep your personal finances personal, and don’t mix it up and blur the lines with the church.  I know this is not a problem for most all of us… at least to this degree… but as a pastor, you have opportunities, however small, to game the system from time to time.  In the words of Nancy Reagan:  “Just say no”, or else you may end up in this type of a situation with the IRS and local media: Thoughts? Todd

Truth be told.  We’ve all been there. Conflict in church settings in inevitable. When should we stay and fight, and when should we leave? That’s a tough question. Joe McKeever makes an impassioned plea about the reputation of the Body of Chris when these conflicts happen. He asks the question (and I think it’s a good one):  Why can’t we just walk away and let ourselves be wronged? In some cases… it really is probably the best answer. Joe writes: Why not let yourself be wronged?  Why not just “take your lumps” and walk away? Do it… for God’s sake. His honor is at stake here. That should matter to you more than your rights. for sanity’s sake.Think of the sheer stupidity of what you are doing. for the sake of your witness. These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. for goodness sake. “All you are doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, and more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.” Only the strongest can walk away from a fight he could win but for which the cost would be too high. 1) Consider the collateral damage to a fight. In brawls on television, furniture gets broken, windows busted, and onlookers injured. In “real life,” churches get destroyed, outsiders get disgusted, young believers get neglected, missions get sidetracked, and the honor of Jesus Christ takes a major hit. The weak among us–the carnal and the cowardly posing as the courageous and the conquerors–will insist these things will resolve themselves, that all that matters is setting someone straight. Back away from such a one. He is your biggest enemy and needs to be quarantined. 2) Consider what Jesus would do. They said, “Lord, speak to my brother. Tell him to divide the inheritance with me.” The trial lawyer in us wants to take that case. “All right, what are the facts? What would be fair? Why is that brother being so heavy-handed and selfish? What does justice require?” Jesus walked away from it. “Sir, who made me your judge? You be careful of greed. Life is not about how much you can possess.” (Luke 12:13-15) This does not compute, does it? For those of us willing to take up every case, who insist on righting every wrong and punishing every wrong-doer, we are not satisfied with the Lord’s answer. Jesus loses no sleep over not satisfying our sense of fair play. He had, as the saying goes, bigger fish to fry. Something He kept calling “my hour” and “the Father’s will.” He was trying to change men’s hearts in order to change their lives in order to transform their destiny. The temptation to take every detour that opened up, even those offering attractive soul-satisfying vistas and feel-good revenge settlements, must be resisted. 3) Consider who we are in Christ. Again and again, the Apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know?” that we will judge the world and the angels? (vv.2,3) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom? (v.9-10) your bodies are members of Christ? (v.14) your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (v. 19) The ramifications of these principles are mind-boggling. Because of who we are in Christ, we can walk away from lesser things, wrong things, and even good things. It’s all because we choose the best things. When you take your brother to court to get your rights, you are defeated before you start. (6:7) So, why not rather be wronged? // Read more here:  Church Conflict: Why Not Rather be Wronged?  OUCH. So… what do YOU think? I’d love to hear your comments below.  Come on… you’ve made it this far… what do YOU think about when you should stay and fight, and when you should walk away, even if you feel like you were wronged? Leave your comment below… Thanks! Todd

Anyone in the church or even outside the church is all too familiar with the long chain of stories concerning ministries and leaders that have been shipwrecked by scandal.  It’s an unfortunate black eye that the bride of Christ has had to sport for far too long. However, it is also a reality of ministry because in the end churches are made up of imperfect people and imperfect people make mistakes, sometimes catastrophic ones.  This being said, I think it is fair to say that by in large most church scandals involve one of two things … money or sex, sometimes both.  Why is this? Well, I’m sure we could debate that for days but in my opinion it is primarily for two reasons:  1) nothing competes against God for your heart like the love of money, and 2) ministry leaders are mostly men and men battle with lust on a daily basis.  The question then is this … What do we do?  Can we afford to keep having these newsworthy failures on a semi-regular basis without losing all credibility? The world looks at the church and sees hypocrites because in their minds, we are just like them.  The thing is, they are right … we are just like them.  We are all sinners, we all screw up, and we all need a Savior.  Yet Jesus calls us to set the bar and not crawl under it.  Sin is unavoidable, broken people are unavoidable, and too an extent failure is unavoidable so again … what can we do?  Here’s what we need to realize … failure may be inevitable but usually there are red flags along the way that if detected could save both the person and the ministry a horrible blow up. Accountability is so huge, especially in ministry.  Sometimes, because of pride, leaders look at accountability as an invasion of privacy instead of a hedge of protection.  We don’t want people asking us about finances because of course we are stewarding God’s money well! We don’t need to answer questions about counseling the opposite sex or what we do with our computer time because we are God’s servants and if anyone understands purity we do!  People better not ask us about our family dynamics because obviously we can lead our families if we can lead a church.  This type of mindset is riddled with pride.  The thing is we should not only invite accountability, we should demand it. sees emails from pastors all of the time who slipped into habitual pornography viewing quite unintentionally and by in large they have no accountability.  Maybe if they were running accountability software like X3watch their accountability partner would have confronted them earlier sparing them years of addiction and self-imposed shame.  Everyone needs accountability but in ministry it is absolutely critical! Most men don’t start with child pornography or escorts … they start with porn.  Most pastors don’t spontaneously start an affair; they do so because their relationships with women in the church weren’t being kept in check.  If you don’t want the ministry God has blessed you with to end in disaster get accountable.  Put in safe measures.  Insist on a culture of transparency among your staff members.  Install X3watch on all of your leaders’ digital devices and make sure they have trustworthy accountability partners in place who will love them but love God more. Yes, it may be uncomfortable.  It may not be welcomed by all your staff.  However, you are called to God and his churches first and foremost so fear of man issues aren’t going to cut it as far as the excuses go.  If you love God, love your church, and love your staff you should insist and implement strong accountability measures because a red flag is easier to address than the aftermath of a scandal that may ensue.
Carl Thomas blogs for & coordinates their X3groups recovery program. is the leader in tackling issues of pornography and sexual addiction.  Their focus on awareness, prevention, and recovery solutions has helped thousands of men and women find freedom and purity through Christ.  Carl is passionate about helping others escape the hold of sexual addiction and desires the same freedom for them that he himself has found through the help of this ministry.

From the Duluth News Tribune: Two Northland preachers are back in federal court alleging that the city of Duluth and Bentleyville Tour of Lights are again violating their constitutional rights to profess their faith inside the holiday lighting display. The preachers – Steve Jankowski of Duluth and Peter Scott of Hibbing, along with the religious freedom groups Alliance Defending Freedom and the Center for Religious Expression — filed a motion Tuesday in federal district court in Minneapolis asking a judge to order the city of Duluth to let them into Bentleyville. City officials have countered that the preachers can be limited to a new “First Amendment zone,” near a parking lot outside one of the entries to the lighting display. Jonathan Scruggs, attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom representing the preachers, said it’s not acceptable for the city to deem a large area of a public park as closed to First Amendment rights. “Nothing has changed from last year. The event is still free and open to the public and it’s still a park. You can’t just close off large areas of a park to First Amendment rights,” Scruggs told the News Tribune on Friday. Nathan Bentley, who founded the lighting display, told the News Tribune on Friday that the preachers were at the park on opening night, Nov. 17, and that police officers showed the men a location in the park that the city has posted as a “First Amendment free speech area.” That area, marked with a sign on a fence, is between the main parking lot and an entrance to the lighting display area. In a declaration filed with the court this week, Jankowski said he has not been back to the park since the 17th. He said Scott has video of police ordering him not to pass out literature inside the display. Police told Scott “they had received instruction from the city attorney to ignore the injunction and they forced Michael (Scott) to stop his expression under the threat of arrest,” Jankowski wrote in his declaration to the court. The issue first surfaced in November 2010 when the men were escorted by Duluth police out of the display when they refused to stop preaching to people walking through the lighting display. The preachers, backed by the legal defense groups, filed suit one year later saying the park was a public place and that the city had no right to keep them men out. The original suit noted that Scott wore a sweat shirt while at Bentleyville that was emblazoned with “Fear God. Hate Sin. Trust Jesus” on the front and “The Blood of Jesus Washes Away Sins” on the back. The suit claimed the men have a religious obligation to preach their Christian faith in public, including carrying signs and wearing messages on their clothes. According to the suit, both men are known for preaching along Duluth’s sidewalks and streets and at events. // Read more here… Your thoughts?