Who Is to Blame for Bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral?

Crystal Cathedral

The Orange County Register has reported that Crystal Cathedral has filed for bankruptcy.  This is the church founded by “Possibility Thinking” Robert Schuller.  His daughter, Sheila Shuller Coleman, is now the pastor of the church that owes creditors about 7.5 million dollars.  In total they are about $44 million in debt.

Even if we allow that our economic times make it difficult for the megachurch to operate business as usual (which we probably should not do), I am more concerned with the quoted comments about those to whom the church owes money.

Jim Penner, executive producer of their television program and a teaching pastor, seems to want the blame to be on those who have not been paid by the church.

A few didn’t want to play ball.  They tried to get ahead of the others.  It became difficult for us to hold the coalition of vendors together.

Playing ball is not an appropriate word picture.  When a baseball umpire yells, “Play ball!”, he then tosses a baseball to the starting pitcher.  When a basketball game begins, the referee tosses a ball in the air.  When a football game begins, a ball is kicked off of a tee.  In this relationship between vendors and the church, the ball would be money.  The church obviously wanted the vendors to step into the batters box while the pitcher (church) stood only with a glove on their hand.  That is a balk.

Penner’s comment also seems to indicate that the church failed to act like a good usher.  They couldn’t keep people in line.  Again, the analogy breaks down because the people in line had already been admitted.  They already provided their resources.  In fact, one of the creditors has had her home foreclosed while awaiting payment for services rendered.

Finally, it appears the church has been in the business of coalition building instead of coming up with payment.  The creditors could care less about being organized.  They want paid.

The board of creditors claims that the church could pay off everybody in 5 years.  The church initially offered to pay them 30% of what they owed over a 5 year period.  Then they offered to pay 100% in 12 years.  Let’s do the math.

Say you are owed $100 by your friend.

First, he doesn’t pay you anything.

Second, he says let’s talk about paying you for 90 days.

Third, he offers you $30 within 3 years or $0.83 a month for 3 years.  He forgets the other $70.

Fourth, he offers you $100 within 12 years or $0.69 a month for 12 years.

Fifth, he files for bankruptcy and says he intends to pay you your $100 at some point.

In this scenario, who is to blame?

Day of Prayer for European Peoples | October 17

Today is the day that European Christian leaders have set aside and asked Christians to join them in praying for European peoples.  I hope that those who read this blog will take time today to do this and make praying for Europeans a regular part of your intercessory prayer life.

My first exposure to Europe came when I was a pre-teen.  My family lived in Aviano, Italy for 3 years near the foot of the Alps.  About 5 years after we left Italy, I returned to live for a year and a half in Germany.  Life in a Bavarian village was wonderful.

Later in life I was twice in Interlaken, Switzerland to minister to members of the European Baptist Convention.  I have also been back to Germany to do some preaching and teaching.  My last venture was to teach theology to young Russian students and to preach in various Russian locations.

My graduate school work was a focus on 16th century European history.  My Gantz family roots can be traced back to Germany.

I give you all of this information to help you understand my heart for this continent.  I do pray that God will do a mighty work among the peoples of Europe.  Will you join me in praying?  If so, you can read about the prayer emphasis and even download a nice prayer guide to assist you.

Day of Prayer for European Peoples

Recommended Site: Ministry-To-Children.com

At times, I am asked to write about particular websites or resources. Seldom do I agree to do so. But when Tony Kummer invited me to check out Ministry-To-Children.com, I knew I wanted to recommend this site.  This is a site for people who minister to children in the church or in the home.  Best of all is the top flight content.  Next best is that all of the resources are free.

Thousands of people are tapping into what this site offers.  They have over 20,000 RSS subscribers and over 200,000 monthly readers.  Resources exist in the following areas:

  1. Sunday School
  2. Children’s Church/Ministry
  3. VBS
  4. Crafts including coloring pages
  5. Leader resources
  6. Homeschools
  7. Family Devotions/Worship
  8. Much, Much More

Check them out.  I would tell you that you can get a discount by mentioning Pulpit 2 Pew, but you can’t go any lower than free.

Sermon of the Week: Rick Warren – The Battle for Your Mind

Rick Warren

Rick Warren recently spoke to the Desiring God 2010 National Conference which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Due to family concerns, Warren’s message was sent via video from California.  This is a sermon that will benefit you much.  I encourage you to click on the link below to watch the sermon and follow along with the sermon notes on the same page.  After you watch the sermon, come back here and leave a comment with either your impressions or something that you are taking away to apply in your life.

For me, I am going to focus on the discipline of having godly things enter my mind.

* Rick Warren – The Battle for Your Mind

Richard Land on Calvinism in the SBC

The Economist has published an article on Calvinism and Southern Baptists.  From the title, Southern Baptists – The New Calvins: Tensions inside one of America’s most successful churches to the content, it is clear that the writer of this article is not a very savvy theology writer.

Putting that aside, the article does quote Southern Baptists Wade Burleson and Richard Land.  I am hoping that the writer did not accurately portray Land’s sentiments.  If the article is accurate, then Land is guilty of two offenses.

1.  Land is directly quoted with a statement that is a classic example of building a straw man only to knock him over.

People try to argue that Southern Baptists have always been Calvinist and we’ve departed from the way in the past 80 years.  That is demonstrably false.

I know of nobody who has either argued or tried to argue that Southern Baptists have always been Calvinists.  Historian Tom Nettles was one of the first in our times to present the case that in Southern Baptist history, there was a strong Calvinist segment from the beginning.  That is vastly different from saying that Southern Baptists have always been Calvinist.

Did you see what Land did in his statement?  He presented an argument which does not exist, and then declared that the argument is false.

2.  Land is indirectly quoted with a statement that assassinates the character of Calvinist pastors.

He says Calvinist seminary graduates keep their beliefs below the radar when they’re out applying for work, only to uncover them once safe in a job.

Wow!  I hope this is not what Land intended to communicate.  I am pretty sure he did not use the terminology “applying for work.”  Baptists churches usually have what is called a pulpit committee that looks for and interviews candidates for the pastoral position in that church.  In the past, I interviewed with several of these committees.  Not once did anybody ever ask me about being a Calvinist.  I was never evasive in my answers to their questions nor did I try to keep any beliefs below the radar. I spelled out my core beliefs and my philosophies of ministry.  During those years, I experienced wonderful relationships with the churches I served. In fact, Richard Land preached for me in my absence in one of those churches.

Perhaps somebody has been guilty of what Land asserts, but it would certainly be the exception and not the rule.  I think he knows that.  If he does, then why is he the head of the Southern Baptist agency that deals with ethics?  If he does not know, then he should not be speaking about it.  Either way, Land needs to clarify his comments.

I’m Rich!

Over the past couple of days, I have found myself in a very reflective and thoughtful mood.  These are always good times because I get beyond the shell of daily activities into what is in my core.  After mulling things over, I have come to the conclusion that I am a rich man.  I am not speaking of what is in my bank account or in my wallet.  I am rich in greater ways than that.

I have a God who has called me his son.  He has loved me, pursued me, and has given me life that is eternal and abundant.  He has seen the wickedness of my heart, and given Jesus to die for that wickedness.  He has placed his Spirit within me.  As the old hymn says, “He walks with me and He talks with me.”  I have been richly blessed with the amazing grace of our holy God.

I have a wife who looks at me with such love.  I melt when she looks at me and her blue eyes brighten and her face lights up with a smile that originates deep within her.  How do I quantify this kind of love?  The only way I thing I know is that it makes me a wealthy man.

I have children who continue to make their dad proud.  When I hear their voices or feel their embraces, I know that I have a treasure that surpasses that of anybody on a Forbes’ list.

I have parents who have demonstrated their love for me for over half a century.  They nurtured me in the ways of the Lord.  The value of this is beyond measure.

I have had 3 pastors who have feed me a good diet of biblical truth with shepherds’ hearts.  I have friends who have challenged me, encouraged me and strengthened me.

I am thankful to God for these investments in my life.  I have been richly blessed.  I am rich.

Sermon of the Week: Timothy George – The Perspicuity of Scripture

I hope to add one sermon each week to the blog (SOTW).  This one is by Dr. Timothy George speaking in chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on September 28, 2010. Dr. George has one of the sharpest theological and historical minds. This sermon is titled, “The Perspicuity of Scripture.” This subject relates to our opportunity to read and understand the Bible for ourselves.

George uses the text from Acts 8:30 in which Philip asks the Ethiopian eunuch if he understands what he is reading in Isaiah. He provides great historical data on the Reformers and their understanding of this doctrine.

Footnote: Desiring Chick-fil-A More on Sunday

As we all know, Chick-fil-A closes their restaurants on Sundays to honor the Lord.  In the article linked below, Jon Acuff takes a humorous look at what that does to us.  The money quote is:

Could you buy some Chikc-fil-A on a Saturday and then eat it on a Sunday? Would that work or would that be like when the Israelites tried to gather up double portions of manna?

* Desiring Chick-fil-A more on Sunday than any other day of the week. « Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff.