Category Archives: From The Pulpit

Rick Warren’s youngest son takes life after struggle with mental illness

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Pastor Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” and senior pastor of Saddleback Valley

Rick Warren and Dan Wooding this year

Rick Warren, left, and Dan Wooding this year

Community Church in Lake Forest, Ca., has announced that his 27-year-old son, Matthew, has taken his own life.

In an anguished message sent to the church staff early on Saturday morning, Warren wrote, “Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

“You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

“But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.

“Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”

Pastor Warren went on to say, “Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’ but he kept going for another decade.

“Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back. Pastor Rick.”

On hearing the tragic news, Southern California evangelist and pastor, Greg Laurie, who lost his first-born son Christopher David Laurie, in an auto accident in Riverside County, Calif., in 2008 posted on his blog, “I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them. At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word.

“There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us. I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together.

He added, “Looking forward to that day when God will ‘Restore all things'” (Acts 3:21).

Founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, Saddleback Church serves the Southern California community with several locations, including in Lake Forest.

Pastor Warren, 59, author of the Purpose Driven Life, which is the best-selling hardback non-fiction book in history and the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible, has two other adult children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren.

King: Uncle M.L.’s lasting message to obey God’s moral law

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By Alveda King
Special to Inside The Pew

Forty-five years ago today, my Uncle M.L., the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered by an assassin’s bullet. Sometimes I wonder

Alveda King

Alveda King

what life would be like if that shot had never been fired; what our nation would be like if that bullet had missed. Many are the times I wish he were here.

But though Uncle M.L. is no longer with us on earth, his voice lives on in the words he used to change our nation in the cause of justice.

We are a more just society today because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Not because he brought new ideas into the public consciousness, but because he reminded us of fundamental, eternal truths — truths that needed to be restated and lived out. He once asked and answered this question: “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?” He went on to explain:

“A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These timeless truths must be restated again today.

Remember Reverend Martin Luther King — let us not forget that he was an ordained Baptist minister and preacher of the Word of God — taught that we are to respect the law. But he also taught that there is a law higher than man’s. There are no commands more deserving of obedience than God’s.

Those commands caused Uncle M. L. to look beyond city ordinances, state statutes, or even federal law for guidance. He believed that those

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

ordinances, statutes, and laws were to be respected, but that they were to be weighed against God’s law or what some would term natural law to determine if they were just.

The same is true today. But some still look to themselves to determine right and wrong.

We are told by the Obama administration that it is “unjust” that women should have to buy their own birth control pills, so everyone else must reach into their pockets to pay for them.

We are told by abortion advocates that it is “unjust” that some women cannot afford to abort their babies, so tax dollars must be used to finance the killing of those children.

We are told by same-sex “marriage” advocates that it is “unjust” that men cannot marry other men and women cannot marry other women, so 2,000 years of wisdom must be abandoned.

And yet, the Bible tells us that human life is sacred. We are thereby to choose life over abortion. The Bible teaches us that natural marriage between one man and one woman is part of the procreative process. We are thereby compelled to choose holy and procreative matrimony.

In forgetting our heritage, in distancing ourselves from God’s moral rules, we are doing Uncle M. L. a disservice, and we are in danger of coming face to face with disaster. So, in remembering Uncle M. L. today, I urge America and the world to remember that he was a servant of God who, though imperfect, tried to point people to the truth.

Muse: ‘Behold, I stand at the door …’

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – Easter is one of the most sacred holidays to Christians.

On March 31, take a moment and remember the reason we celebrate it. I remember Easter Sundays vividly growing up. It wasn’t the Easter egg

Muse

Muse

hunt after service, but the message of His death, burial, and resurrection.

With a change in priorities by many people, it is important to continue to tell the story of Jesus beyond Easter. As believers, we must be consistent and resonate that message because it is His death that we are saved.

According to Revelation 3:20, the author said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV).

No matter how we live our lives, Jesus is the door. To make any strides to get to heaven, it goes through Him. Therefore, we have to learn all we need to know about Him and teach His words to the next generation. If Easter means dressing up to the 9s and Easter baskets, we are doing the Lord and our children a great disservice. Be accurate and tell the truth. The secular word has tried its hardest to take Him out of the holiday (Christmas too). Believers won’t deny Him.

If you take a look at the sacrifice He made for us, we don’t need flashlight Christians. These are the people who cut His word on when they want to cut it on. Instead of flicking His word on and off, become a spotlight for God. My favorite scripture on this is 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

He didn’t die for Himself. He died for all mankind.

Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Inside The Pew. Email him at pewnews@aol.com.

Stone: Five marks of a kingdom builder

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By Melanie Stone
Special to Inside The Pew

People that help start and grow churches are kingdom builders. They are men and women working together to expand the kingdom of Jesus Christ. In I Corinthians 3:1-17, Melanie_StonePaul compares church planting and pastoring to constructing a building. In verse 9 Paul says, “We are God’s fellow workers… you are God’s building.”

A Kingdom Builder has God’s heart and vision to reach more people. My husband, Jerry Stone, and I have a vision to support church planters and pastors through Grow Churches, Inc. (www.growchurches.com). We believe the best way to reach the world is through starting and serving life-giving local churches in nations around the world. People who want to build the kingdom of God want to see new churches in communities that will reach out to the lost and the hurting and bring them to salvation and wholeness.

Kingdom builders realize they are part of something bigger than themselves. Christians with a kingdom building mentality realize that the Church that belongs to Jesus Christ is bigger than their local church; it goes beyond their city, their state, and their nation. The kingdom of God is larger than it has ever been in history. There is a growing sense of Christ’s return, and the importance of winning souls is intensifying.

A Kingdom Builder has Jesus as his King. Jesus is what we all have in common in the family of God. When Jesus is the Lord of someone’s life, that person will not only listen to Christ, they also will obey Him. Their motivation to serve Christ’s cause in building His kingdom is the love that men and women have for Him.

A Kingdom Builder wants to see development. We once lived next to a plot of land where someone was building a new home. We enjoyed watching the process. We saw the foundation laid, the electrical system put in, the framework go up and the roof and walls put on. When people participate in church planting, I believe they enjoy watching the development process. It’s fun to take the journey together. It’s exciting to see the grace of God meeting every challenge and every need as we move forward. We get to build the kingdom of God together.

A Kingdom Builder wants to see results. We like to share the stories of the people who receive Christ, who find friendships, who receive wholeness and healing, who find strength their marriage and families, who find a place to serve, and who find freedom! When a kingdom builder sees lives being changed, they want to be a part of it.

I want to encourage you to think beyond your boundaries and see the work that still needs to be done. Decide to be a kingdom builder and do all you can to advance the kingdom of God through planting and growing local churches.

Melanie Stone is a co-pastor, church planter, author, speaker, and Bible teacher. Together with her husband, Jerry Stone, they have founded Grow Churches, Inc. as a ministry to serve and resource churches in nations around the globe. Melanie and Jerry also are planting Freedom House Church in Lexington, Ky., in September 2013. Melanie is a graduate from Rhema Bible Training Center and has a Bachelor of Theology degree from Life Christian University. She has ministered in churches across the United States as well as in Great Britain, Colombia, Mexico, and Canada.

Young: You are ‘all that!’

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By Mylow Young
Special to Inside The Pew

On this journey I’ve been discovering God in a big way. He’s shown me that I’m awesome! Even in my weaknesses, in all of my inadequacies, in all my short comings, faults,

Mylow Young

Mylow Young

screw ups, and sins. To God I’m still all that and a bowl of potato salad!

I don’t have to be Super Christian to be all right with God. And even though the world and its belief systems try to dictate to me what’s right and wrong, what’s hip or not hip, I know that to Him it can’t get any cooler than me. So I don’t have to live by popular opinion, feel me?

I’m not caught up in “religious” perspective or even how I may appear in the eyes of the “church” and I don’t have to perform to earn His love because God “… did see my substance, yet being imperfect;” (Psalm 139:16) and I didn’t have to work for His salvation because of his grace! (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But there’s one thing that’s even better than me being awesome… and that is… YOU are! You don’t have to be what people say you should be and you don’t have to be what they want you to be. You know who they are right? The ones who write the script for the world telling you you’re too fat or too skinny or that you’re unattractive. The ones that say that cute or pretty matters and that they are the ones who decide what that even means. God wants you to be who you are because He made you and loves you as you are.

What makes you all that? Because you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). What makes you so awesome? You are “His workmanship, created to do good things” (Ephesians 2:10)

So you don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards… why not? Because Jesus is the standard and when God sees you He sees Jesus. You don’t have to be “with it”, hip or cool by society’s standards because you’re already all that! He thinks you’re awesome and so do I!

But if you don’t know Jesus, get to know Him. Ask Him into your heart right now!

Prayer: Lord, I know I am a sinner in need of Your salvation. I turn away from my sinful life and I ask You now for this free gift. So come into my heart, forgive me of my sin and make me a new creation. Thank You Lord for salvation, giving me new life and for making me awesome. In Jesus name… amen!

Never forget that you’re AWESOME!

Mylow Young, a licensed minister and native of Philadelphia, is author of “Crack House Exodus: Against the Gates of Hell.” Follow Mylow on Facebook and on Twitter @mylowyoung.

Lee: One must first be whole before connecting with another person

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By Donald Lee
Special to Inside The Pew

To anyone anxious about getting into a relationship without first being a complete person: Understand that you cannot be good to anybody else until you can allow God to

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto" (Matthew 6:33).

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto” (Matthew 6:33).

do a work on the inside of you.

When you allow God to smooth out your rough edges, you won’t subject yourself or your children to domestic abuse. When you allow Him to work on you, your tolerance level for foolishness drops to zero. You begin to understand that it’s not about you running a household in your own understanding, but instead about you allowing Christ’s headship to be the final authority in your family. It’s about kingdom principles being applied in the home.

Singles, if your desire is to be married or in a relationship that potentially leads to marriage, the best thing for you to do is to get into the presence of God — to strive to do what is pleasing to Him. Once you get hooked up with Him, then He knows how to connect you with the one who best complements you.

If you’re praying to God for a mate after having submitted yourself totally to His will for your life, the person He has for you will have a spirit that’s the right fit for who you are, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s just an overwhelmingly special, holy feeling that grips the both of you, a result of having consulted with God sincerely before proceeding.

And when you seek God first before seeking a relationship with someone else, the Lord defines you (see Matthew 6:33). He lets you know who you are. That saves you the heartache that comes with permitting someone else to damage your self-esteem through the definition of you that he wants you

Donald Lee

Donald Lee

to have rather than the one God has given you.

When you allow God to prepare you for someone else, you’ll have a greater appreciation for that person and vice versa. And you can “see” one another. In other words, the two of you can see into one another’s hearts and discern agape love, an authentic, heavenly love — the kind of love that is best expressed through people who are committed whole-heartedly to the Lord.

So, the best way to significantly increase the likelihood of your entering into a truly loving relationship is to simply put God first. He will make you complete.

Donald Lee, co-author of the relationships book “Married to Commitment,” is founder-pastor of Kingdom Living Christian Center in Dallas. He can be contacted at

pastordonjlee@yahoo.com or (225) 773-2248. Visit him online at http://www.christiancouplesconference.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donaldj_lee. You can also write him at P.O. Box 211186, Dallas, TX. 75211. 

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Daily: Some thoughts on surprise resignation of the Pope Benedict XVI

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By Dennis Daily
Special to ASSIST News Service

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (ANS) — As a journalist who was raised in a Catholic home and went through 12 years in Catholic schools — and, like many Catholic boys,

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

thought he wanted to be a priest at one time – I am watching closely the events that are happening in the wake of the resignation of the Pope.

I awakened to the headline, “Pope Benedict XVI to resign, citing age and waning energy.” For there it was in black-and-white in the Washington Post, “Citing failing strength of ‘mind and body,’ Pope Benedict XVI stunned his closest aides and more than 1 billion Catholics by resigning on Monday, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years and ending the tenure of a formidable theologian who preached a gospel of conservative faith to a fast-changing world.

“Keeping with his reputation as a traditionalist, Pope Benedict delivered his resignation – effective Feb. 28 – in Latin, to a private church body in Vatican City. ‘I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,’ he said. ‘For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter.'”

On hearing this news, I was startled for several reasons:

First of all, since this is only the second time in 2,000 years that a Pope has called it quits, I realized instantly that this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Actually, it’s a once-in-many-lifetimes kind of thing.

From a pure journalistic standpoint, this was QUITE a story.

Secondly, I began to realize all the things that must be going on in the Vatican to prepare for the election of a new Pope.

I’m fortunate, when I was in high school, a nearly ordained priest came to the parish and he taught religion to us. You have to remember that most Catholic kids, and others who go to religion-sponsored schools, have to attend a religion class every day. No Sunday school for us Catholic kids.

The young priest assigned to my high school would eventually, in later years, go on to teach at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that this youthful priest was a real rebel — a fire-brand.

He had spent his seminary time at Collegium Canisianum, located in beautiful Innsbruck, Austria.

It’s funny, after all these years, I can still remember his mailing address there, when he went back for a while as part of a project: Tschurtschenthalerstrasse 7. I guess had his school been on White Street of Alps Boulevard I would have never remembered its address.

Actually, Kress was more than a fire-brand. Some in the parish thought he was a radical. His sermons were full of questions and doubt that troubled many of the older members of the parish.

One week, after wondering aloud from the pulpit if there really HAD been a “Great Flood” and if the “Noah Story” were just a great parable, my own grandmother went to the pastor, Kress’s boss, asking that he be sent to some other parish.

Part of his reasoning about the existence of a Great Flood was based on similar stories in myriad other cultures. He seemed to be more excited about relaying the liberal Catholic thought in which he was immersed during his time in Innsbruck, than delivering a traditional sermon that would warm the hearts of the congregation.

But, that was Father Kress.

The reason he enters the story here, is that during those years in Austria, Kress had worked among many members of the Catholic Church there who were helping to prepare for the Second Vatican Council … that great assembling of religious leaders of all stripes, from around the world. It had been called lovable Pope John XXIII.

Kress’s seminary years were spent during an intense period of debate within the church. The conflict, of course, centered on whether the liberalization of the Church was indeed necessary.

John Paul XXIII had used an Italian word to describe what he wanted to do at the council; that word was “aggiornamento,” or “updating.” But the then roly-poly Pope who, while a bishop, had saved the lives of countless Jews who would have been swept up in the Holocaust, wanted more than an updating. He told media that he wanted to “open the windows and let some fresh air into the church.”

Liberals in the church in Europe were thrilled at the Pope’s announced intentions. They were even happier when John XXIII invited observers to the council from every known religion in the world.

Conservatives were worried that the Church would make a decidedly leftward shift. The church had already begun to look more catholic (with a small “c”) and more universal in John XXIII’s time; he had increased the number of bishops and cardinals from Third World countries and worked for the canonization of saints from lesser-known areas of the world.

So, we students in the 1960s, during the Vatican Council, were given a running play-by-play of what was going on in the halls of the Vatican by someone who had been in the thick of planning for the multi-year re-examination of the status of Catholicism.

We would watch news reports and Father Kress would point to the TV screen and say: “Oh, look, there’s Cardinal Konig,” or, “There’s Cardinal Frings.”

Kress had worked with these men, especially with Frings. The cardinal, who was from the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, had graduated from the Canisianum and maintained close ties with the school.

Frings, at the time, was one of the closest of confidants of another priest from the region, a teacher and writer who, at the time, was perceived to be on the liberal bandwagon.

That priest was Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, today’s Pope.

Frings and Ratzinger and two other liberal thinkers, Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx, were Fr. Kress’s heroes.

Shortly before the first session of the council opened, Frings had given a speech in Genoa, about the First Vatican Council. It called in 1868 by Pope Pius IX, ostensibly to deal with a quickly changing world in the height of the Industrial Revolution.

Frings looked at the impact of that first council and wondered if Pope John XXIII was simply re-opening an old concept, putting a modern-day “aggiornamento” spin on it.

When the Pope was informed about Frings’ speech, he summoned the clergyman to the Vatican. The session was not negative, as Frings had feared. John XXIII actually liked the speech. Frings thanked him. He didn’t tell the Pope that the speech had been written by his friend, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger.

After leaving high school, and those five-day-a-week sessions with Fr. Kress, and the daily play-by-play of what was happening in Rome, my thoughts of the Second Vatican Council faded.

Occasionally, I would have dinner with Fr. Kress, during the time that both he and I lived in Washington, DC.

I remember one evening when he wondered what had happened to all the fire-brand liberals of the European church over the years. He told me that many of them had “converted” to the conservative cause. One of them was the man who would one day become the first German-born Pope in a long time … and who would startle the world by resigning.

There will be a lot of “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” over why Ratzinger is leaving his post. As a close adviser to the late Pope John-Paul II, the current Pope saw his predecessor grow weaker and weaker and shakier and shakier, while still trying to minister to his flock.

I am sure that Pope Benedict didn’t want to be that kind of Pope.

It will be interesting for all of us, though, to see what kind of role a former Pope will play in society. The last time anyone had a chance to witness that was 77 years before Columbus first sailed to the New World.

 

Dennis Daily is a lifelong journalist and radio news anchor and programmer. He spent 20-years with UPI (United Press International). During most of his tenure there he worked for the now-defunct UPI Radio Network. During several of those years he served as the network’s Religion Editor. He previously worked as a national spokesman for the USDA in Washington, was a Congressional Press Secretary, all-news anchor and producer for “The Larry King Show.” Long associated with religious programming, Daily returned to his hometown in southern Indiana for 26 consecutive years to anchor and produce five hours from four churches on Christmas Eve. For several of those years the broadcast was relayed around the world via Armed Forces Radio. After his two decades with UPI he went back into local radio in California’s San Joaquin Valley. He now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., where he is semi-retired. He continues to do freelance radio work, voicing daily reports on various topics. Dennis also produces the Religion & Ethic s Minute based on the stories of the ASSIST News Service. He can be contacted by e-mail at: newscaster@earthlinknet.

 

Iluno: Christian ladies, become attractive in manner that God approves

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By Rev. Nelson Iluno, corresponding assistant to Prof. Herbert Eze
Special for ASSIST News Service

NNEWI, NIGERIA (ANS) – “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold pearls or costly garments’ but rather by means of good works, as befits woman making a claim to Godliness” (1st Timothy 2: 9-10).

I have written this article for women, but I encourage men to read it also. The reason for addressing this article especially to women is because Paul, in our text, (also Peter in 1st Peter 3: 1-5) addressed himself primarily to women. This is not to say that men should not dress modestly, and cannot dress immodestly. Apparently, Michal felt that King David had displayed himself in an immodest manner in 2 Samuel, Chapter 6, so it is possible. The truth would seem too likely to be by a well-dressed man, as by a partially nude one. Taking these matters into account we may conclude that the principles of modesty apply equally to men and women, but they are principles of which women especially need to be aware.

In the story of David and Bethsheba we have illustrated the usual pattern of immorality. Bethsheba displayed herself in an immodest fashion, and David looked on her with lust (2nd Samuel 1: 1-4). Both sinned in ways that are far too common on the part of men and women. Neither could blame the other for their sin, for each had to assume the responsibility for their particular wrong doing. It is the same way today. Men need to be warned against lust, but women need to be concerned about how they present themselves to men; whether modestly? This article deals with this issue. Which is one that goes beyond the question of skirt length and styles?

The aim of this article is not to designate those clothing that are modest, and those which are immodest. I am not going to be picking on particular type of clothing nor do I wish to answer such question as: how short is too short? How tight is too tight? How low is too low? And how little is too little? What I do want to do is to encourage you to think about what is modest, and what is immodest.

I believe Christian ladies, young and old, need to give thought to the question of modesty when they put on, and when they put off, their clothes. The fact that many do not is what concerns me most. This point was driven home to me a few years ago when I was pastoring a Church in the northern Nigeria. I asked teenage girls in the church to name some styles of dress that they would not wear because they viewed them as immodest. The young girls could not identify as immodest any styles. However, the alarming thing was that they rarely gave thought to the question of modesty in selecting their clothing. I told them what I am telling you now. I have desire to set myself up as the final authority on what is, and what is not modest. However, I do want to exhort each individual to develop a personal sense of what constitutes appropriate dress, with the full realization that they must give an account of the standard they adopt.

I know there are those who would not hesitate to name certain styles of dress as being immodest and if pressed to do so I could supply you with a list of my own. However, in doing so I believe I would be failing to really impress on you the message of our text. There are those fundamentalists who would tell you that it is a sin to braid your hair, wear jewelry, or dress in expensive clothes, and they would point to our text as proof of their position. However, by taking such a literal view of another text which deals with the matter of modesty, I can prove that a woman should not wear any clothing. Note what Peter says: “whose adoring let it not be that outward adoring of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel” (1st Peter 3:3 (KJV) – emphasis mine).

If Peter’s words here are taken literally, then women sin by putting on clothing! I doubt that very many fundamentalists are going to want to take that position. To the contrary, most fundamentalists are more interested in putting more clothing on than seeing any taken off. In fact, any discussion of modesty will invariably focus on the matter of sexual stimulation; despite the fact, that doesn’t appear to be the primary emphasis of the two texts I have quotes.

Let’s hasten to make a point about what I am saying, before someone tries to misinterpret me. I am not saying that it is all right for women to take off their clothes, and that the potential for inciting lust is not to be a matter of concern. What I am saying is that a barrier against such misconduct will be better established by being true to the point of Paul and Peter’s words, than by using them as a pretext for setting ourselves standards of dress.

It is my conviction that the Holy Spirit is making the same point in both texts penned by Paul and Peter. The point being that Christian women are being noticed for their character, not their bodies. An attractive, well-dressed, well-manicured Christian woman is not a sinner. In fact, I believe Christian woman should be (and are) the most neat and attractive woman on earth.

However, their beauty is not to result from undue attention to their outward appearance, but as one of many products of their inward spirits. This exact point is made by Peter as we see when we complete the thought begun in verse 3: “And let not your adornment be merely braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses: but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quit spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women` also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being frightened by any fear” (1st Peter 3:3-6).

Those who would abuse Peter’s words here to place under restrictions on women who are aimed only at making them drab and unattractive might want to consider this. Sarah, whom Peter used as an example, was so attractive that Abraham was afraid Pharaoh would kill him to have her for himself (Genesis 12: 10-20). Also, Rachel’s good looks caused Isaac similar concern (Genesis 26). Finally, Esther not only entered the King’s beauty contest, but was declared the winner (Esther 2: 1-20). All of these examples should show one’s physical appearance to become the focus of attention in your own mind, and the thing which others are most aware of when they observe you.

In the context of what has been said to this point I would like to suggest two questions that every girl and woman should ask about their clothing and the manner in which they are presenting themselves. First, you should ask “how will others perceive me when I adorn myself in this fashion?

The first question is, perhaps, the more important of the two, and should be the more easily answered. It has to do with your self – image, and the emphasis of your life. I find it contradictory when woman complain about being viewed as sex objects, and yet direct so much attention to their physical appearance. While Paul was not speaking directly of modesty when he wrote that “bodily exercise is only of little profit, but godliness for all things “(1Timothy 4:8), I believe these words have a general application to our society, with its emphasis on physical attractiveness.

Those women who derive a sense of their worth only from the appearance of their hair, the slimness of their figure, the beauty of their face, etc, are to be pitied. We must also understand this tendency in light of the emphasis being given these matters by so many. The wonderful things about God’s commands are that they are always in our best interest. God’s commands regarding modesty are no exception.

The woman who understands God’s will on this matter escapes the “beauty trap” and the superficial value systems of our society, and is able to experience her real value as a child of God’s. While there are women who need to be rebuked for their blatantly seductive and suggestive ways, there are even more who need to be freed from the cross of feeling compelled to give undue emphasis to their outward appearance at the expense of an awareness of their true worth.

The second question, pertaining to how others will perceive you if you dress in a certain fashion, is a little more difficult to ascertain. In seeking an answer I would suggest that you speak with your husband, father, minister, or trusted friend (male or female) whom you know cares about the real you. If they see you as appearing coarse or vulgar, then you probably need to examine your heart and your style of dress.

I must advise you that there will always be those who will be critical, perhaps because of their own struggles with sin. However, if close friends see you as being immodest, or if a majority (or even a significant minority) of people know you more to your dress (or lack of dress, as the case may be) than they do to your Christian character, then you have a problem.

The goal of every Christian woman is not to be unattractive but to be attractive in a manner which God approves, keeping in mind that the ultimate aim of our existence is to give glory to God. The final word in respect to modest apparel may well be this verse from Psalms, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name, worship the Lord in holy array” (Psalms 29: 2).

Prof. Herbert Eze can be reached by email at herberteze@juno.com

 

Bill Ellis: The pastor’s study

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By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) — The pastor’s study is the one place in every city, county, state and nation that should be saturated with prayer – humble, believing and active prayer. That is the control center of the entire operation.

I have had the privilege of being in the pastor’s study in hundreds of churches, some among the world’s largest churches and the most prominent preachers. The pastor of the largest church east of the Mississippi River had for his working study a four-room house across the driveway from his residence. Those large rooms were filled with books. Dr. R. G. Lee had an inner study, no windows, where he did his most concentrated work on preaching.

In the large Bellevue Baptist Church, in Memphis, Tenn., where he pastored for 32 years, he had a beautiful and well-appointed office. When I was in it with him one day, he told me that particular office was used for interviews, counseling and meetings for church business. His office for study, writing and sermon preparation was located beside his residence on Peach Street.

It is sometimes hard to get much serious research and study done in terms of sermon preparation in a church office with constant interruptions. I am always hesitant to go to a pastor’s study – and only if I think I can be helpful with such a visit. Pastors who are serious about their assignments, have no time for idle chatting with parishioners who have little to do.

As a pastor, I had a beautiful office at the church and fortunately had another inner office, but my main office for study, writing and sermonic preparation was in the basement of the parsonage for 25 years.

Two wonderful parishioners, Elgin and Dorothy Hawthorne, whose son, Dennis, is a successful pastor in Springfield, Ill., and their younger son, Elgin, a church organist of excellence, presented me with a cherished bronze and wood plaque, which had a story engraved on it titled, “Pastor’s Study.” For years, it has been in my office. Here’s its message,

“The pastor’s study is the symbol of the calling of the Christian minister to be the shepherd of a flock of God. His sermons are prepared to feed the congregation on God’s Holy Word.

“Here the work of the church is planned so that the congregation may grow and bear fruit in fellowship, teaching, and witnessing. Here you will always find a friend and counselor in time of need. He will not be surprised at your sins, nor will he judge you in them, but he always invites you to share with him, the wisdom and love of God, the knowledge of forgiveness of sin, and the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“You are always welcome.”

The pastor’s door is never closed to those who need the counseling, encouragement and prayers of their pastor. It is not, however, normally a place for idle chitchat. It is a place where you will find a loving heart and understanding listener.

Speaking of Christ’s gifts to the church, “He gave some to be . . . and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Timothy, a young preacher is informed, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ . . .” (I Timothy 4:6).

I do not know of any calling or profession that demands more of a man or woman than the one to be a pastor. October is “Pastors Appreciation Month.” Do all you can to assist your pastor with the work of ministry.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

 

Snyder: Recovering post-Christian Christians

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Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not reflect the thoughts of Inside The Pew staff.

By John Snyder
Special to Inside The Pew

In the United States, many people are praying fervently and trying with all their might to recover a “Christian America,” and they’re convinced it can happen with just the right political candidate. “With our person in the White House we can go back to what we used to be!”

But even if we could elect St. Paul or St. Augustine as our new president, what impact would that have on a very un-Christian, post-Christian population without some massive spiritual awakening taking place first? It’s been said that no leader can be worse than the people who elected him/her.

It’s one thing for Christians to be living in a post-modern, post-Christian society, but it’s quite another for our churches to be packed with “post-Christian Christians.” What I mean is that unless and until we as Christians finally commit ourselves to live our lives as Jesus intended, it really won’t matter who occupies the White House or the seats of Congress, or sits in the Parliament of any other nation in the world.

Even if we can’t generate a predominantly Christian nation here in the USA, we can create a great number of Christian societies in the midst of it through our churches. But the church would have to be very different from what we see right now. By “different” I don’t mean in terms of the usual religious externals—clothing, appearance, religious language, and all of that—but in the way we act, what we value, and particularly how we treat one another.

“How they love one another!” and “With what great joy they live!” were things the pagan world said of the earliest Christians. Who says that about the church today? Virtually every poll that has come out in the last few decades has simply confirmed the continuous dismal slide of the church toward a complete conformity to the culture. We’re no longer distinguishable in any way from the secular world.

OK, so most of us have heard this before. Continuing to wring our hands about it won’t make any difference. Here’s what we can do about it. We can humble ourselves, turn from our own sin and selfishness, and give ourselves to prayer—real prayer, fervent prayer—continuing to ask, seek, and knock until God hears from heaven, forgives our sin, and heals our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

For churches to have any impact on society, change has to begin in us and our families first. We need to clean up our act, ensure that our family is centered on Christ, and then become healthy, active members of a real, God-honoring church.

It’s been said of nations at one time influenced by Christian faith (but no longer) that their social problems are primarily the fault of the church. In other words, when the church really is the church—when the word “Christian” means a person in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells—things happen. The medicine of the Gospel works only when taken full strength. And history has demonstrated that the Gospel has the power to revolutionize society even when a minority are believers.

Few doubt that the world is at one of its most critical points in all its history. We can’t make a mistake here. We’re faced with a full-blown call to arms, not with the weapons of the world, but with unrelenting prayer and the power of the Spirit, manifest in sacrificial love and steadfast obedience to whatever God calls each one of us to do.

This just isn’t the time for Christians to be pursuing along with the world more and more luxury, ease, entertainment, property, toys, and all the rest. The church may have been lulled to sleep by bread and circuses as the rest of the culture, but we don’t have to remain so. Listen to the call of the Spirit. It isn’t too late…yet.

Let’s ask ourselves, what can we do personally to resist the slide toward total cultural absorption of the church?

John Snyder (@jisnyder)is a pastor, author, and conference speaker. He has taught New Testament Studies at New College Berkeley, California, and has pastored and planted churches in California, New York, Switzerland, and Hawaii. Snyder received his Bachelor of Arts from Vanguard University (Costa Mesa, Calif.); his Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary; and his Doctor of Theology from the University of Basel, Switzerland. Snyder’s new book, “Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God”, is now available from Thomas Nelson Publishers on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, and other major retailers. He is also the founder of Community 321, an online faith community, and Basel Community, an information and relocation service to expats in the greater Basel, Switzerland, area. Contact Snyder via email john@community321.com.