I want to start out this segment responding to a letter. I receive letters on occasion. Often times there is nothing to respond to because they're not that kind of letter. Other times there's a lot to respond to but I'm not capable of making the full response in writing that is required. But there are times when things come up that I think represent a misunderstanding of something I've said, and also if it's delivered in somewhat of a challenging tone which bothers me and I want to respond. I don't like being misunderstood. I don't mind when people disagree with me, but if they disagree, I want them to disagree with me for the right reasons--and certainly not disagree because they misunderstand. I?ll say one other thing here and this is on a more personal note. I bet most of you people think I'm a real tough character, but actually I'm quite a softy in a lot of ways and I do take things personally. And sometimes when something strikes a little close to home I like to try to respond to it. I especially take things personally when I feel like I've been maligned because I've been misunderstood. There are some things that I've said in the past about a theme I've played a number of times that have apparently been misunderstood by one listener and she wrote to me. I think my response to this letter goes beyond answering this one particular writer. I think we can all learn something from it as well. I want you to understand my point of view on this issue because I think the point of view is important.
What should the church do when a member turns to strong drink to avoid a personal problem--turn the other way and hope nobody smells his breath?
What should the church do when a member is an incessant gossip, continually sowing discord? Do we retaliate and start gossiping about that person?
What should the church do when a member commits sexual immorality? Do we say, "It's complicated and it's none of our business. Besides, everyone is doing it these days--and we didn't discipline so-and-so for doing it last year"?
The church must never forget that the Bible is our management manual, and that the Bible makes the church responsible for disciplining its members.
Church discipline is not a pleasant subject. It is one of the least talked about subjects within the church. Many are afraid to discuss it. We would much rather talk about the "victorious Christian life."
But we cannot lead victorious Christian lives until we . . .
Those who play the personhood card argue that there is a difference between being a human and being a person. There are, they say, human beings that don't qualify as persons, and therefore should have no legal protection as persons. The unborn is an example of a human who is not a person. When asked "What's the difference between a mere human and a human person," which is a fair question to ask, there are three possible answers. First, an unborn child doesn't look like other bonafide human persons who are at different stages of development. "After all," they say, "an acorn isn't an oak." Second, an unborn child doesn't do like other bonafide human persons who are at different stages of development.
You recall the unfortunate case of baby Theresa in Florida who was born without a cerebral cortex. What was the argument there? She's not a person because she can't think like other babies think (this was used as an argument for infanticide in Florida). She can't do what other real persons do. The law implicitly offers a third distinction. The unborn child isn't located at the right place as are other human persons who are at . . .
"He knew so much about the Bible; he had such a great ministry. How could this happen to him?"
People often have asked me such questions when a Christian leader has fallen because of money, sex, or pride.
The unasked question is left hanging in the air. "Since this happened to such a spiritual man (or woman), am I going to fall, too?"
I used to answer, "We're all vulnerable. It could happen to anyone," echoing what other Christians have said in the past.
Some time ago I knew a middle-aged man in South America who was one of the most winsome evangelists that I have ever heard. But he had an attitude toward money that was unholy. He put away money that wasn't his. Now he is no longer an evangelist. He is doing something else when he ought to be winning souls in the harvest field of Latin America.
As well, I was deeply grieved when I learned that a respected American youth evangelist with whom I had worked in the past had left his wife, his children, and his ministry for the passions of the flesh. It turned out that secretly, for years, he had been feeding a pornography addiction while preaching up a storm against immorality. Then, the inevitable happened. He started committing adultery. He had affairs going in city after city. Finally, the truth came out, and he walked out on his family.
A hole in the heart is never quite so big as when a father's love is missed. Like our innate need to know the God who loves us, our need for a father never goes away. Though death and divorce have made many children "fatherless," God promises that He will be especially close to these hurting souls. The key: recognizing that God is the loving father you always needed.
Single-parent families were not common in the 1950s, especially in the predominantly Catholic community of Niles, Ohio, where Velma Meares grew up. Kids as well as adults often inquired where her dad worked or where he was.
"He's dead," Velma replied, never getting used to saying those words. When people reacted in shock, Velma felt even more uncomfortable.
In Velma's first-grade mind, every problem was linked to her father's death--he had a . . .