ChurchETHOS

Compassionate Moment

Posted in church leadership, cultural relevance, social justice, uncategorized by Nathan Creitz on October 16, 2009

I ran across this video recently from the Catalyst Conference and had some conflicting emotions as I watched it. As a communicator of God’s Word, I am intensely aware of the power of emotion and the importance of using it effectively (though I often make mistakes). Take a moment to watch this video (especially starting from 3:45) and get an impression and then rejoin me for thoughts after:

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes as a communicator so when I watch a video like this and comment on it I do so for my own learning experience (and perhaps my readers can learn from this as well). Let me also say that I have full confidence in the integrity of Compassion International and for everyone on the stage during this video. However, I think some steps could’ve been taken to avoid an awkward situation. This post is sort of like a case study for communicator’s.

Jimmy and Mark’s story was very powerful. I can’t imagine a more compelling story and I know the Holy Spirit was at work in this moment. Compassion International is a reputable organization and I have lots of friends who have attended Catalyst conferences. But after Jimmy meets Mark, I thought the way the MC handled this situation was distracting and misguided. Again, coming purely from a communicator’s perspective, I think we need to learn from this moment and be aware of the power of emotion. This was a powerful moment but at the end it felt like a commercial (even though he said it wasn’t. I’m always extremely sensitive especially to the way we ask for money even for a worthy cause).

Now, I know that hundreds of children got sponsored through this event, but my concern with this video doesn’t have anything to do with poverty. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with motives. I’m sure the people who coordinated this moment were hoping to persuade as many people as possible to sponsor a child and that they were doing so for the right reasons.

I don’t want to attack anyone’s motives, but I do want to caution about methods. To me the moment after Jimmy and Mark met I was longing for someone to whisk them off stage and then lead the crowd in a time of praise for the One who made all this possible. Of course, no one doubted that it was the Spirit who was working in that room at that moment, but it seemed to go way, way too quickly to a plea for money.

So, viewing this as a case study, I invite your insights. Should this moment have been planned differently? Maybe with videos or with more tact? Should someone have prepped the MC to feel free to go off script if the moment was too powerful to proceed? What lessons do we learn as church leaders about the power of emotion and our need to carefully consider what may or may not happen in a moment such as this?

You can also continue the conversation over at the  Compassion Blog.

You can become a Compassion International sponsor here.

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Please Disregard Wiley Drake’s Foolish Remarks!

Posted in christian thought, church reform, social justice, theology by Nathan Creitz on June 5, 2009

ImageServerDB “I am glad George Tiller is dead.”

Those words were not uttered by Tiller’s murderer (to my knowledge). Instead, they were uttered by someone who claims to believe in the Bible. They were uttered by a former VP in the Southern Baptist Convention. They were uttered by a pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California. His church must be so proud. They were uttered by Wiley Drake.

Will the real Wiley Drake please sit down!

Who is Wiley Drake? I’ve been to maybe eight or nine Southern Baptist Conventions so I know a little bit about him. At the convention each year, resolutions are voted for or against. Some are good, some are bad, some are crazy.

Since it is a democratic process, anyone, and I do mean ANYONE who is in attendance as an official delegate to the convention from ANY Southern Baptist church around the world, can submit a resolution on the floor of the convention. I’ve heard Wiley Drake’s name for years because he is always proposing some resolution. His resolutions are always from way out in left field.

Though the SBC has been trying to redeem its reputation as a positive force for Biblical values and social justice and care for neighbor, Wiley Drake seems to be stuck in a hyper-fundamentalist funk. As far as the SBC has come in recent years, they still make mistakes. A couple of years ago, for some reason, the SBC voted to make Wiley Drake our 2nd VP of the convention. What?

For Drake to become an official officer of the SBC was amazing. For all those years I remember the following scenario played out many times:

Moderator: “The platform recognizes microphone #3. State your name, church, and resolution.”

Drake: “My name is Wiley Drake…

ALL SBC convention delegates: *sigh* *groan* *oh boy, here we go*

Except seven Drake supporters: *applause* *whistle* *hoot*

Drake: “I’m the pastor and messenger of First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, California.

ALL SBC convention delegates (except those same seven supporters): *collective roll-of-the-eyes*

Drake: “Be it resolved that the SBC and all Bible-believing Christians must overthrow the US government because they don’t know God. Let’s go get our guns people!” (this is a hypothetical example from my own imagination but trust me, the truth is stranger than fiction)

So what did we do? We elected him. WE ELECTED HIM! It was a beautiful strategy (some thought): Now, all of a sudden, for at least one year, Wiley Drake was unable to propose any resolutions because he was an officer of the convention. yeah!

The drawback was that now when he does something controversial and public (those very well may be his core values) he’s referred to in the news as “former Vice President of the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention”. His title is given as if he speaks for all who call themselves Christian. As Richard Land said of Obama’s election recently, “Elections have consequences.” That was never more true than when the SBC elected Wiley Drake to be an officer of the convention.

So what did he do now?

So why am I talking about this today? Well, there was an Associated Baptist Press article about Drake’s interview with Alan Colmes. Many of his comments are disturbing. Drake had been praying for Tiller’s death because he thought some of the prayers David prays in the Psalms means God wants Tiller dead. Colmes asked him if he prayed those sorts of prayers about anyone else. Drake said, “The usurper that is in the White House is one, B. Hussein Obama.”

Colmes: “Are you praying for his death?”

Drake: “Yes,”

Colmes: “So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?”

Drake: “Yes.”

I want to ask: Are you praying for his salvation? his forgiveness? his family? his policy making? his soul? his redemption?

Here are a few more quotes from the interview: “I think it’s appropriate to pray the Word of God,” Drake said. “I’m not saying anything. What I am doing is repeating what God is saying.”

“I believe the whole Bible, Alan,” he explained. “I don’t just preach part of it. I don’t just preach the soft, fuzzy, warm stuff where we’re supposed to be nice to everybody. I preach the whole Bible.”

Does the Bible really say that?

Let me make a few points in response to Drake’s hate-prayers from the Bible of which he claims to know so well:

Romans 2:4 Do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (HCSB)

The fact that God doesn’t immediately wipe EVERYONE off the face of the earth is a miracle. Now, why is He holding back? So they might repent and turn to Him.

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (HCSB)

Jesus, for some reason, didn’t act vindictively against those who rejected Him. Maybe it was because of His love. In fact, when they nailed Him to a cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Did you get that, “forgive them“. Chances are, Tiller simply didn’t know what he was doing either. So, we pray for people’s souls and for their forgiveness, not for their death.

When someone takes matters into their own hands and murders someone like Tiller, they are taking away the possibility that Tiller might repent, turn from evil, choose good, and follow Christ. That’s why God restrains Himself. Imagine how many people are rejecting God and working against Him, even cursing Him. But does He want them dead? No, He wants them to repent!

Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (HCSB)

I’m not saying I have any enemies or that we should consider the Tiller’s of the world to be enemies, but what Jesus is saying is that it’s not enough to simply love your friends and family, if you are going to be children of God you have to act like Him and learn how to love everyone. I feel like loving people (not asking God to kill them) is a pretty strong commandment somewhere in the Bible…I’ve definitely heard it somewhere before…oh yeah: Matthew 19:19; 22:37ff, Mark 12:29ff, Luke 10:25ff, 1 John 4:21, Leviticus 19:18, etc.

An enemy of a Christian should receive more love and prayer and forgiveness than the friend of anyone else. An enemy of a Christian should benefit from that relationship in some way.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (HCSB)

I could say a lot about this verse. Suffice it to say that a) prayers and thanksgivings should be for “those who are in authority”, not against. b) Wiley Drake isn’t modeling this passage. c) Drake’s actions aren’t leading anyone “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (he certainly doesn’t seem to be living a tranquil and quiet life either). d) This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree with our leaders, but the focus here is on prayer for them and not on political activism.

Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. (HCSB)

I disagree more often than not with what Obama does, but I recognize that he, along with Pilate (John 19:11), and Nebuchadnezzer (Jeremiah 27:7) AND King David (1 Samuel 16) before him were given authority according to the counsel of God’s own will. Good rulers and bad, through the history of the world (and I’m suspending judgment on which kind of ruler Obama will be) have come along and we are to pray for them and recognize that God has a plan in allowing them to be in positions of power.

A call for a response

I’m not sure how to get in touch with Wiley Drake but I encourage him to respond to this post. You can find my email address on this blog. I will even allow him to write a guest post for ChurchETHOS to explain more fully his remarks about George Tiller’s murder. I prefer to go to confront someone in private but when someone damages the faith so publicly I take it upon myself to make it known to MY friends and family that I am not a follower of Wiley Drake (or of King David for that matter). I am a follower of Jesus and I refuse to stand by quietly and let the name of Christ be stained so publicly.

A lot has been said about George Tiller’s murder in recent days. The only thing that needs to be said by children of God and followers of Jesus is that murder is wrong and that we will be praying for his family. Drake’s comments are careless, theologically misguided, and damages the churches reputation with the unchurched.

In all fairness I should say that Drake did make a few qualifying remarks; like the fact that he hadn’t been praying for Tiller’s murder, just his death. Not much better.

He also had this to say:

“This whole concept that we’re always to pray little, nice, soft, fluffy, prayers — that we’re not to pray imprecatory prayer — has been something that just, in all honesty, that Southern Baptists have lost, and we need to regain imprecatory prayer,” Drake said. “It is in the Bible, and we are proud to say as Southern Baptists that we believe the Book. You’ve got to believe the whole Book, brother, or you don’t believe any of it.”

You got one thing right, Wiley, most Southern Baptists, to their credit, have lost this judgmental sort of prayer life.

I ask for my reader’s forgiveness

I don’t usually call someone out for their errors in such a public way and I pray my readers forgiveness for this post, but I don’t apologize for what I’m saying. If Wiley Drake can so publicly defame the name of Jesus with his careless comments I will exhort him publicly to return to Christ-like love, forgiveness, and grace. Wiley, I will pray for you and I offer these comments for your edification, not your destruction. My prayers are for your repentance and not your death. I can only hope that those who desire to reply to this post on this humble semi-private blog will reply with more tact and grace than I have exhibited in my reaction to the story that is playing out much more publicly in media outlets around the country.

If someone knows how to get in touch with Wiley Drake for his comments, please send this post on to him.

Related Post: Terminating Tiller’s Life is Worse than Tiller Terminating Lives ::  Subscribe

Terminating Tiller’s Life is Worse than Tiller Terminating Lives

Posted in christian thought, politics, social justice by Nathan Creitz on June 1, 2009

art.tiller.kakeCNN reported Obama’s statements following Dr. George Tiller’s murder: “However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.”

I AGREE WITH THE PRESIDENT (on this issue)!

The senseless murder of an abortion doctor or of an unborn baby will not resolve our differences. Recently, Obama said we must find a common ground on this issue of abortion. Maybe our common ground should be that proponents on both sides of the issue would cease the heinous acts of violence.

Let me be clear, I believe most abortions are not justified and it is a huge problem in our country. I am pro-life with the understanding that a small percentage of abortions might be justifiable! Even Obama believes we should work to lower the abortion rate. Convenience should never be a motivation for an abortion (not saying that’s the only motivation, don’t misunderstand me).

On the other hand, as one who finds school and church shootings especially deplorable, and as one who thinks advocates for the unborn should be especially peace-loving and life-loving, and as one who sees martyring an abortion doctor as particularly unraveling to the anti-abortion cause: I am more outraged by the murder of George Tiller than I am of all the crimes against humanity Tiller has performed in the past 40 years of performing late-term abortions.

I am joining with the President, Planned Parenthood and other Pro-Choice activists as well as fellow peace-loving Pro-Life activists in condemning this act of violence. On the issue of abortion, this may be the first (and perhaps last?) time I will be in such whole-hearted agreement with these groups.

My heart goes out to Tiller’s family, to his church, and to his friends and community. You are in my prayers!

Spread the Wealth

Posted in christian thought, cultural relevance, social justice by Nathan Creitz on October 23, 2008

After learning about the global crisis of poverty in a previous post we are left with the question, “What now?” When we consider all of the problems in the world that are brought on by greed, materialism, or quests for power many of us are left despairing that we can’t do anything to help. Poverty is a problem that only big organizations or governments can handle. Let them deal with the problem. And yet, it’s my belief that when confronted with issues of social justice or the environment that it is precisely “we the people” who can make the difference and not the government. I’m not wealthy, but when it comes to sharing what I have with others, I would prefer to do that with my own hands and not through the government as intermediary.

When dealing with the issue of poverty, there are several things that each of us could do right now! Short of “selling all and giving it to the poor”, what are some things that we can do to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves? Though we may not have much, is there something we can do to help?

Show Some Respect

The first thing I would suggest is that when it comes to interacting with people less privileged than ourselves we need to show some respect. The person asking for money on the street corner may not have a college degree or a nice car like you but that doesn’t mean they are any less valuable. For some reason, we get the attitude that a person living on the street is irresponsible, wants to use my money for cigarettes, and is incapable of holding a job. That may be, but do we have to assume it to be true (unless it’s written on a sign)? Why not assume the best rather than the worst in people. Who knows, maybe they do have a college degree but they’ve gone through a tough time? Who are we to judge based on a person’s appearance?

Buy a Meal

If you still have hesitation about a person, take them to lunch and find out what sort of person they are. Don’t just make a sack lunch and give it to someone as a gesture of charity. Instead, invite them to lunch just as you would a fellow colleague. You might say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now, but my lunch break is at noon, would you like to meet me at that diner over there and I’ll buy you lunch? It would be my privilege.” We are quick to throw money at a problem when if we took a few minutes to get to know someone, we might be able to help in the context of a relationship. Pay for their lunch and spend time in meaningful conversation. Let them be the human that they are without being prejudged as incompetent.

Give A Gift of Love

There are dozens of organizations that help us realize that some people’s standard of living is so low that if we gave just $20 a month (for example), we could help feed, clothe, and educate a child in a poor region of the world. I’ve always appreciated what WorldVision is doing to get people to sponsor children but there are plenty of other organizations that you can research to find out their effectiveness. I also value the initiatives that help people “sponsor” cows, chickens, or sheep to help a family get milk or eggs or wool for themselves. Others get involved by donating money to dig a well that will give clean water to an entire village. Blood:Water Mission says, “$1 = one year of water for an African.” Check out globalgiving.com for even more ideas.

Volunteer
Habitat for Humanity is one organization that I can highlight here that has a proven track record of helping people through volunteerism. To own a home through Habitat for Humanity, the home owner builds sweat equity into his or her own home but he or she is helped by dozens of others who work alongside them as a way to show their love for their neighbor. This is love and service in action. You can even take a volunteer vacation through organization like the Sierra Club or Globe Aware. I’ve been able to work with Habitat for Humanity and International World Changers (a faith based organization) on dozens of projects all around the world. Travel is fun, but travel with a purpose opens your eyes to the need of the world.

Do Something Now

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically with love, respect, and humility…and do it now! Don’t wait for the government to do something. Spread your own wealth. I love what Paul the Apostle says, “I have learned the secret of being content – whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Poverty can hit any of us at any time, so if you are in a position to meet a need, do it!

What are your thoughts on what can be done to end poverty? What are some of the experiences you would like to share as you have fought against poverty in the world?