The Good Stuff: Tim Keller

I found my self getting ready to send two of my friends links to the same sermon today, and then I thought, “hey… I have a blog for this kind of stuff”,  so here is my recommendation for your daily sermon.

Tim Keller is a really good teacher.  He is someone who you feel smart for just understanding.  Listening to his sermons over the last two years has really stretched my husband and me.

You can subscribe to his sermons on his church’s web site for those who are hooked, but for the financially challenged, there is lots of free Keller out there to be had.

Reformissionary has a really great Tim Keller Resource Page with links to tons of his sermons.

His sermons on Praying our Tears and Praying our Fears were really wonderful for me when we were going through the hard stuff.  If you are struggling with pain (or fear, or the fear of pain) now, take some time and take a listen.

If not, save it for later, because as C.S. Lewis noted, to open yourself to love is to open yourself to pain.

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False Teaching: Rick Warren Encourages Lying to Children

Rick Warren has come under a good deal of fire for preaching a gospel that is focused on personal fulfillment rather than repentance of sin and dieing to self. I believe that criticism is well earned. But that is not the only problem with his teaching.

Last spring, just after he launched his site Pastors.com (the about page starts, “This blog is a place for pastors to have an honest dialog about issues they face as leaders of their churches.”) he posted an article in which he encouraged people to lie to children when a pastor is removed due to sin. This directive is not just off message, it is outright telling people to sin and to sin against the vulnerable. It is calling sin good. Here it is, complete with two compliments. Note the paragraph on what to tell children [bold mine]:

What Happens When a Staff Member Falls (letter mentioned in podcast)

May 1, 2007 · 2 Comments

Dear Saddleback MemberIn 2007, I plan to write you several times to help you understand some of the behind-the-scenes procedures and strategies of our church family. In this letter I want to explain what happens when a staff member at Saddleback must be removed because of some sin.
TAKING THE INITIATIVE (Proverbs 28:13)
If a staff member voluntarily confesses to me, or to our Staff Pastor (Bob Baker), and repents before being found out, Bob or I counsel that person privately. Depending on the violation, they may be allowed to remain on staff while recovering. If a staff member does not take the initiative, they are suspended from staff immediately while the elders consider their situation. If a staff member continues to lie about their sin, they are fired immediately.
WHO IS TOLD? (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
Sin is to be confessed only as widely as it affects others. Private sin requires only private confession to God. Personal sin that involves others requires interpersonal confession to the people involved. Public sins (those that affect a large group of people in our congregation) regrettably must be dealt with publicly as a warning to others. The Bible says that those who teach are held to a greater public accountability because of their visibility to those they teach. (James 3:1, 1 Tim. 5:20)Children have a fragile faith and often idolize their leaders. Parents should be careful not to talk about fallen staff in front of children so they don’t lose heart. If asked, you should simply say “They resigned,” That’s all children need to know.RESTORATION (Gal. 6:1)
The goal of church discipline is the restoration of a person’s life, marriage, and possibly ministry. This is hope and prayer, but it is not an automatic conclusion. Our church has a specific restoration process which includes 1) confession and restitution 2) counseling and testing, 3) regular accountability to a group of pastors, 4) prayer, 5) refraining from ministry to focus on maturity, 6) strengthening character and marriage, 7) Bible study and Scripture memorization, and 8 ) rebuilding and proving credibility. The fallen staff member must humbly cooperate with our restoration process which may last up to a year or longer.

Restoration does not mean being restored to the staff of Saddleback. That would not be best for the former staff member or the volunteer workers in that ministry. We are a high-visibility, fast-moving congregation. After the restoration process is finished, we would want to see that person slowly re-enter ministry in a less visible church with smaller demands. Usually after restoration, the person re-enters a different type of ministry than the one they led before their fall. This is because our most effective ministry always comes out of our own deepest hurts and experiences.

SPIRITUAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY (Gal. 6:2)
Sin always hurts others who are innocent, so we provide spiritual and emotional support to the family of the offender. Depending on the situation, severance pay may be provided so the former staff member can focus 100% on rebuilding his/her life.

OFFERING FORGIVENESS & REBUILDING TRUST
(2 Cor. 2:7-8)
Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Forgiveness is offered immediately, even before it is asked for, but forgiveness does not remove the consequences of sin. (Gal. 6:7). Leadership is built on trust, and trust must be earned. While trust can be destroyed instantly by a single decision, it takes time and proof of change before anyone can be restored to ministry or leadership. The Bible commands that they be tested first. (1 Tim. 3:10, Philip. 2:22)

DOING ALL THIS IN HUMILITY & LOVE (Eph. 4:2, 1 Cor. 10:12, )
The Bible says “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” It also says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.” Now is the time to review your own life and marriage. If you haven’t heard the message by Kay and me “Affair-proofing Your Marriage” I strongly recommend you get a copy this weekend.

Satan is always trying to destroy or discourage God’s Flock by defeating the shepherds (pastors). We are a church family and we must stand together with Craig and his family during his restoration process over the next year.

Saddleback is a strong, mature, and healthy church. In past situations like these, our church family has pulled together, rallied, and become even more stronger and committed. We believe in Romans 8:28. I love you and I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

“Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we’re doing or why, but it’s hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God.”
Hebrews 13:18 (The Message)

PASTOR RICK

Categories: Rick Warren Ministry Podcast

2 responses so far ↓

  • Ray McKay Hardee // May 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    We have JUST encountered a situation like this in our church and are using a Spiritual Care Team.The wisdom you provide in this letter is priceless!
  • Steven Taylor // June 12, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Thank you. We are facing a situation right now concerning a moral failure of a volunteer staff member. Your letter is a godsend!

My husband Scott had submitted a short comment criticizing the post but it was not approved by the moderator. I posted an additional comment pointing out the problems and encouraging Mr. Warren to amend the article, but my comments were not approved either.

This is my rejected comment:

My husband sent this article to me and I am concerned with the advice given to be dishonest with children about leaders removal from service.

Chiefly, straight out, scripture tells us not to lie. Telling children that some one resigned when they were in fact removed is a lie.

I could just stop there, but as a family therapist, I think it is important to discuss some of the destructive consequences of such a policy.

First, Warren makes the point that children “often idolize their leaders”. Yes they do, and that is sin in itself. (1 John 5:21 – Little children, guard yourself from idols.) That idolization should not be protected, it should be challenged. Children should learn from their youth that everyone who thinks they stand should “take heed lest they fall”, and that even the most well respected leaders can fall into disobedience to God.

Now this should be done in an age appropriate manner, and details of the sin need not be disclosed, but leaning the lesson that disobedience to God results in painful consequences at age 6 makes a powerful impact that may spare a child from falling into serious sin at age 16 or 26 or 66. When you see that one of the most influential people in your community cannot get away with sin, you learn the fear of God and the respect for the rules that keep you out of danger.

Second, and this should be blatantly obvious, not telling a child that someone is no longer a trustworthy leader puts them at risk for victimization and false teaching of all kinds! Why would you allow a child, whose minds and hearts are so mailable, to remain respectful of someone who is in selfish/unrepentant sin and not being lead by the Holy Spirit?

We don’t want children to idolize respectable people much less untrustworthy people.

Third, children are not stupid. If you lie to them, they will eventually figure it out, even if it is not until adult hood, and they will stop trusting you. If someone at 26 finds out that they were lied to about what was going on in their church, they may question everything that was told to them during their entire experience at that church and with those who lied. I have seen it happen.

I think that there are few things that shake ones faith more than being lied to by a church.

Fourth, again, lying is a sin. Don’t do it. Even to protect someone.

Such unfortunate events are potential teaching moments. They can wonderfully enhance a child’s understanding of grace, and, most dynamically, secret and unrepentant sin. They give them a chance to learn important lessons from others mistakes so they don’t have to learn from their own.

I am sure Mr. Warren sincerely believes that this policy is helpful in keeping children innocent, but I strongly encourage him to rethink this and change this article. Because bottom line, it is telling people to sin against their children.

Ginger Taylor, M.S.

When I looked through the site, I noted that the only comments that had been approved were those that praised Mr. Warren or his comments. (If you know me, you already know my feelings about silencing dissenting opinions).

Because the comments were not posted, I sent an email to the site. After a short email exchange with Eric Busby, Saddleback’s Pastor of Channel Development, it became clear that although he stated that his claim that, “we are unlikely to develop a policy prohibiting critiques of Pastor Rick Warren because we want to encourage honest dialogue on matters that concern the entire listening audience”, his follow up comment, “Unfortunately, we do
receive a large number of comments and are unable to approve them all”, was just PR speak for “we are not posting your comment, buh-bye”.

I noted that currently pastors.com seems to be continuing the same, ‘only fawning comments welcomed’ policy.

So… with twenty thousand people going to his church, has not one person stood up and insisted that he change this article so that it is not telling people to sin?

If not, why not?

First Order of Business… The Good Stuff

Hebrews 5:11-14

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

One of the most unfortunate things about the church in American today is that there is so much imitation, powdered milk being offered from the local pulpit.

The most delicious thing about this interwebular area is that whole worlds of really great bible teaching is out there, beautifully arranged ones and zeros just ripe for the picking by anyone with an internet connection.  So the biggest part of this blog will be pointing hungry believers who want to grow big and strong to the meat.

These  posts will be easy to find as they will all be under the category called:  Meat!

In this post lucky reader, I am not just pointing you toward a mere steak, not even about a whole side of beef, but an entire pasture, as far as the eye can see, just full of big fat cattle.  Your own personal free heard of cattle!

Reformed Theological Seminary, R.C. Sproul’s Seminary, offer’s a Master’s of Religion online.  When I found out about it last year I had hoped to be able to enroll, however being the parents of an autistic child proved to be cost prohibitive (and time prohibitive as stuff comes up with Chandler and I have to drop everything else and see to his needs).

But then something magical happened.  RTS decided to put all their lectures for all of their classes for the degree, plus a bunch more, on I Tunes!  For free!

http://itunes.rts.edu/

I actually burst into tears when I saw it.

So this month I get to start getting my pretend Masters of Religion.  If anyone wants to join me in pretending to master religion, let me know.

If you are not ready to take on years of classes, perhaps I could suggest a month of classes.

Tom Browning is the pastor of Arlington Presbyterian Church in Arlington Texas and he has done a really good series on the book of Romans.  It is a 43 part series, so suffice it to say, it is an in depth study.

Scott and I are finishing it up now, and by that I mean that Scott finished it three weeks ago and I still have 11 sermons to listen to.

Browning treatment of the material is smart, understandable and moving.  Your iPod needs this series.

A New Blog For A New Year

Hello All. Ginger Taylor of Adventures In Autism here.

I have been doing an increasing amount of God Blogging lately, so I decided that it should have its own space… so welcome to the new space. It was born out of my growing concern and alarm for all the false teaching and flat out bad ideas that are passing as biblical messages in God’s Church these days.  Daily Discernment will be offering resources for good biblical teaching from the reformed perspective of Luther and Calvin, taking a critical look at some of the questionable and outright bad theology that is being consumed in post-modern America, take a look at the lives of those who claim to be disciples of Christ and have taken leadership positions in the church (to see if they are living what they preach, or confessing and repenting when they don’t) and be a place for good (respectful) debate about what the bible really says.

As God is want to do, he brought into our lives a couple of extreme events to get us to where we are now, and that got me writing what I am writing now.  The first was the diagnosis we received in 2004 of our two year old son Chandler that brought us back to a seriousness about our lives and the things of God again.  The second was seeing corruption in our former church that gave us a wake up call as to what is going on in the church in 21st Century America.  Allow me to share how I started down the road of desiring discernment.

In 2005 and 2006 we were members of a large, metro megachurch and were seeing behavior in the staff that was not in line with scripture. We started taking a closer look and found some serious areas of entrenched sin. Naively, we thought that because the church claimed to be bible practicing church in the reformed tradition, that of course they would be teachable and practice biblical church discipline in those that were stubbornly unrepentant of wrong doing

We were way, way off.

After several months of trying to navigate through the process with not much success or cooperation from the church, I attended a meeting with the number three and four staff people in the church, and the more senior man gave me a long list of things that he wanted to see happen and wanted me to do. When he was done listing off the actions he expected me to take, almost all of which were out of line with what God teaches in scripture and even a few things that contradicted the sermon that we both had heard from the pulpit only three days prior, I replied, “…that is not biblical”.

His astonishing response was, “I don’t know what’s biblical here, this is just how I do business.”

I was completely baffled by the exchange. I looked to the ordained pastor that was present, expecting him to be as ruffled by the statement as I was, but he had no reaction what so ever. It was as if his superior had just said, “What a nice day it is today”.

Long story short, we decided to do what the bible said instead of following this administrator’s unbiblical instruction, and he ran us out of the church.

As we were leaving and talking with our friends there about what was happening, almost all of the advice that was being given from other church members consisted of some form of the statements, “Well I think that you should just …”, “Well if you want __________ to happen, then you should ____________” and, “Do whatever you think is best”.

It was not until we had cleared that place and it’s influences for several months before we really wrapped our brains around the fact that no one that we dealt with (except for one person, who bowed out eventually) from the newest attendee to the Senior Pastor with a Ph. D. said, “Here is what God wants, (insert scripture quote here) so lets all do that”.

It was all about man’s desire and man’s wisdom.

Now this was not a controversial church. It was a church with a decent reputation for the last ten years or so. So my husband Scott and I started rethinking all of the messages that we had been just uncritically swallowing and scouring scripture and we honestly were ashamed that it had taken us so many years to wake up and smell garbage that was being packaged as God’s Truth. We were also ashamed that we had ignored all of the red flags that we saw in the lives of the leadership and in our own lives.

The disturbing thing is that this church is operating pretty much the way most large churches are operating these days, and after looking again at the instructions that Christ gives to his disciples, we started to see that Standard Operating Procedure in modern ‘Christian Culture’ today stands in opposition to much of what Jesus taught.

During the conflict, someone gave us a “Christian” book called, “The Bait of Satan” to offer us instruction on how to deal with being wronged by the church. It is a book about forgiveness, and is one of those that sounds good, unless you are really testing all its pronouncements against scripture. Reading this book with my new critical eyes, I was appalled at what I was seeing. One faulty premise in the first few pages of the book detached it from what God actually said, and the rest of the book, which is based on this premise, falls apart because of this flaw.

It claims in the first few pages that Jesus forgives everyone, so we must forgive everyone.

Except that He doesn’t. He is pretty clear that some people are not forgiven and will spent eternity separated from Him because of it.

This faulty premise, taken out to it’s logical conclusion, becomes a blue print for abuse in the church. (I will be writing a fuller criticism of The Bait of Satan by John Bevere down the road.)

The strangest thing… the book was given to us by a man who was a foreign missionary. He firmly believes that the population that he is preaching the gospel to is trapped in sin and will not see heaven, and he loves them, so he turned his life upside down in the hopes that they will respond to the message that he has brought to their little part of the world. But He praises a book that preaches that Jesus forgives everyone.

If Jesus forgives everyone, then he can pack it up and bring it all home, because all those people he is preaching to are forgiven and will go to heaven!

I scribbled notes on pretty much every page of the book point out the scripture that the author contradicts and the faulty reasoning and gave it back to him, but rather than saying, “man… I had not thought about this… I am going to check this out and see if you are right”, we just never heard from him again.

So what has happened to discernment in the church? Are we swallowing dirt and calling it dinner?

This blog will taking a critical look at the popular messages in the church today, some of the bad messages that we have gotten from people who claim to be speaking for God, and connecting the dots between lessons that need to be brought together and balanced in order to receive the WHOLE counsel of scripture.

A few notes:

One… I seek to be teachable here, so not only will I not be offended by people challenging me, I am soliciting it. Because we are flesh, criticism can be unfun sometimes, by my goal is to become a woman who comes to love correction. To receive it well is to become refined, and sanctified and more and more like Christ.

Two… I seek to maintain a liberal comments policy. I don’t think that it is many peoples best interest to suppress speech, and it is not something that I see Jesus doing in scripture (He just gave amazing responses), so I really try not to remove comments.

At AdventuresInAutism.com I describe my comments policy as a, No ‘you suck’ Comments Policy. Posts have to have a point, so if they are nothing more than some variation of telling someone that they suck, then I will remove them. If you are a professing Christian, I expect that you will use 2 Timothy 2:25-26 as your guideline for critiquing another’s comments, if you aren’t, and you really want to tell someone they suck, then be sure you make a good point so that I won’t be able to bring myself to take down your comments 😉

Comments will not be edited, merely removed if they violate the comments policy. When I remove one, I usually encourage the person to repost their comment, but with less mean.

Thank you for visiting and make yourself at home.