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Monday, July 11, 2011

Compassion can be deadly

I am easily moved to tears.  When I find out that someone is being mistreated, my emotions can take over and I'm not only a mass of tears but I become an energized force trying to find a way to help the victim.

It's important that all of my readers understand what I'm trying to do.  I don't want to misjudge anyone or to cause anyone to slip into clinical guilt.  But there are several components that you need to understand.

Compassion must be in full bloom when you are a Christian.  You must look at the pain in the world and jump to help.  You must be moved to tears by the needs of others.  Like Jesus on the cross, you must look at your enemies and be so moved by their needs that you whisper, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Unfortunately, many people stop there.  They think that God is all about forgiveness, that he is all about making you feel good and that he has nothing to do with judgement or helping you move forward.

The truth is that as a "Teacher, Minister, speaker, writer" I have the God given responsibility to point out the "Good" I see around me.....but I also am called to point out the "Problems".  That's hard!  I don't want to hurt anyone.  We live in such a demanding and critical society that everyone is filled with stress and suffering from low self-esteem.  We often feel as though everyone is out to attack and we are so desperate for approval and love that we would rather continue making mistakes than have anyone offer suggestions for change.

When we allow compassion to overshadow truth, we deny ourselves the chance to grow.  The truth is that growth and change is steeped in criticism and negative reflection.  I've never heard anyone say...."My life is going great!  I'm making lots of money, I have a great family, I love my job....I'm having the best time of my life!  You know, I think I'm going to change everything.  I'm going to get a different job, a different family....etc...."  You get the picture.  No, as long as everything is okay in our life - all of us, including me - we will hold our breath and hope that nothing changes.

We only change when someone points out a problem.  We only consider different choices and different thoughts when we are challenged to do so.  It's important that in our desire to be compassionate and not judge unfairly - that we don't shrink away from being honest or offering an opinion that is desperately needed in order to spark change.  Using Compassion as a reason to ignore sin will produce the same deadly results as participating in sin.

One of the largest components to the failures of today's youth is their inability to accept thoughts and opinions different from their own.  Like little spoiled children the liberal calls the patriot names because he can't tolerate a different opinion.   The atheist sues the state because he apparently doesn't have the ability to turn his head when faced with a cross.  Our children are so weak that they can't sit quietly while one child bows his head to say a silent prayer.

In order to find strength we have to be able to challenge ALL our beliefs and all our actions.  By challenging them, turning them over and looking at them, tearing it apart and looking for every clue - we become stronger in our beliefs.  Challenging your beliefs does not mean you are a bad person or that you don't know what you are doing.  Challenging your beliefs doesn't mean you are walking away from them.  Challenging your beliefs or your life is simply a way of cleaning up the inconsistencies, strengthening the foundations and becoming a brighter light with your life.

Recently, I received a comment (to be released once this is posted) about my post Mega Church Pop Stars.  After reading the comment I stopped and prayed for the writer.  I could hear his desperate need to be understood and loved. I am sure that he is overworked and struggling with all the demands of pastorship.  He is probably one of those precious few that does more than preach - they actually live it.  While he may not have needed my thoughts, perhaps others do. Here's my response.....

I am so thankful that you wrote.  Thank you for your comment.  After reading it I stopped and prayed for you and your church.  I am truly sorry if my post made you feel bad in any way.

I would like to address some of your issues.  First of all, I do feel called by God for what I'm doing.  I'm very careful that everything said on these blogs has been put through a time of prayer and contemplation first.  I posted about the church we visited two weeks after we were there.  I prayed many times about the thoughts that burned within my heart.  I am sure there have been times when you knew you had to preach a sermon that would step on toes.  You probably begged God as well to let you skip that sermon and yet you couldn't because you knew the problem existed within your congregation.  I'm sure that as you contemplated preaching that sermon, you were worried that the people who didn't need it would take it to heart and those that do need it will walk away untouched.

While you may not have needed what I said....I know there are others that do.  America has a lot of problems and unfortunately many churches aren't meeting those needs or training their congregations to meet the problems with deep faith and strong convictions.  The contemporary church is not as strong as other generations have been simply because individuals are so distracted by the world they live in.  The reality is that the church will lead us out of our problems but only if pastors get real about faith and less worried about being a star.  I am positive there are a few large churches that take care of every member and work hard to be sure the truth is taught.  I visit, listen to and research the theology of many churches and I've found that most of the time - not all- the motive is not "disciples"....the only motive is numbers that will produce funds that will produce more programs that will make everyone feel like stars.  That was my only point.

Also, on this blog I've recommended the book "5 ministry killers and how to defeat them" by  Charles Stone.  This book is wonderful and I recommend that every pastor and member of a church read this book.  I liked it because it reprimanded members who didn't take "scriptural" care of their pastors.  I also cried when I heard this pastor talk about being "called" by God.  I think the reason a pastor can get into the pop star role is because he's made pastoring a job.  No pastor should ever think of his position as a job.  Once it's a job you are forced into the role of pleasing people rather than God.  You are forced to make compromises in order to keep "the job".  It's only when a pastor is "Called by God" and is determined to only follow God's leading - that's when he can't be touched by the whims of stardom.

How do I know that?  Because I do have a minister's license.  I've spent many hours studying the Bible and discussing God's calling on individual lives at a christian university.  Both of my parents are ministers and my Dad built three churches completely on his own with no denominational help.    I helped with those churches while I was a teen, during my college years and continuing into my married life.  I was as close to being a pastor without the title as you can get.  My grandmother was an evangelist and I have over 34 ministers, evangelists, missionaries, deacons, and various church workers dotted throughout the extended family.  My entire life has been church.  I've held every position within the church - including board member.  You are right that I've never held the "Pastor" label, but as an only child I sat at many supper tables and listened as my parents (family and friends who were pastors) discussed the problems and trials of the church.  When I was old enough I became a part of those discussions and prayed with my parents for answers.

I've watched my parents cry at the pain directed at them by church members and I've heard their prayers when they simply didn't have the strength to face all the stress that went along with being God's shepherd.

The difference for me is that I also watched them defiantly buck trendy misconceptions in order to stay true to their calling.  They insisted that they were not allowed to "change" any part of the word of God in order to boost their own attendance.

The difference in the Mega Pop Star pastor and the dedicated pastor is simple and easy to spot.  It's easy to tell the "motive" of both people.   A pastor called by God will always think first of the "spiritual truth" rather than the desire to "appeal" to any generation.  A pastor who simply seeks a job will always be concerned about his own appeal.

Dr. Foth is one of my favorite speakers and pastors.  He served many churches and has worked as Senate Chaplain and director of the White House prayer breakfast.  While speaking at a conference he said, "We must always remember that God is as pure as water.  He is the living water.  We don't need to add anything to him or help him in any way.  He can stand alone."  He used an illustration of coke.  "Coke has water in it, but the formula for coke is pages long.  It will rot your teeth and cause all kinds of medical issues.  Water has a very simple formula  H2O.  You can drink all you want and it will never harm you.  In fact, it will keep you healthy.  When we add things to Jesus we dilute him and make him weak.  When we use the simple message of Jesus Christ and allow him to work - miracles happen."

I get hundreds of e-mails asking for more posts on churches and their purpose.  Many of these people are finding their spiritual instruction on line from people (pastors?) like me.  I am reminded of a small verse in Ephesians 5 that gives us a clue into God's requirements.  Paul told husbands to love their wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it,  - and he went on to say in Eph. 5:26 "that he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."  I believe that God wants us to strive for just such a church.  Can we be perfect?  No....but I believe we should try to do all we can to get as close to that goal as possible.

Thank you again for commenting on my blog.  I hope that God will bless you and give your ministry his power.  I will be praying for you.  Please feel free to contact me at any time through my website at

God loves you,


1 comment:

charles stone said...

Debbie, thanks for your kind words about my book. Charles