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
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! ToddI 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. 🙂
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! ToddTruth 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:
XXXchurch.com 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.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.
Carl Thomas blogs for XXXchurch.com & coordinates their X3groups recovery program. XXXchurch.com 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.