Obama, McCain, and . . . Rick Warren?

Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California, held a civic forum at his church that was focused on the presidential election. Both Barack Obama and John McCain came and were asked the exact same questions. It wasn’t a typical debate though. The questions were centered on religion and social justice issues instead of healthcare, VP nominations, and financial and personal security. CNN aired the incredible forum that showed the candidates in a more conversational atmosphere than any other public debate prior.

After the forum, most critics agreed that if they had to pick a winner, then John McCain would probably take the prize. The following day, a reporter claimed that since Barack Obama was on the stage first, John McCain had the chance to hear the questions and have time to formulate an answer along with a rebuttal to Obama’s answer. They claimed that this advantage is the only possible way that John McCain could have won a debate against one of the most talented orators in America. There’s only one thing wrong with that though: Rick Warren told the audience that John McCain was in a separate place in a “cone of silence” and could not hear what was going on in the main auditorium.

The following week, two supports from opposite sides of the aisle went on Larry King Live to discuss the accusations. The Governor representing the Republican Party paid Rick Warren the highest compliment I could think of, and he probably didn’t even know he did it. When Larry King asked whether or not the governor thought Rick Warren had mislead the audience into thinking McCain could not hear the questions, his response was, “I really don’t think you want to start questioning the integrity of Rick Warren. That’s a claim you’ll never win.”

Wow. I can’t think of a better compliment to give a person in ministry. If I had to choose one thing people would say about me now and in 50 years, it would be that.

“Great Sermon!” You can keep it.

“Incredible Speaker.” That’s all a matter of opinion.

“Caring and loving pastor.” That’s nice to hear, but . . .

“Good husband and dad.” Getting warmer, but not quite.

“Nathan is a man of integrity.” Wow, thanks. That means a lot.

Here’s the reality that is true in Rick Warren’s life: Not everyone likes him. Not everyone thinks he is a good speaker, or is a nice guy, or agrees with everything he says and does. However, he has maintained such a high level of integrity and character that even people who don’t like him are hesitant to accuse him of anything that would call into question something that he has said or done.

I hate to admit it, but all of us are in the same boat. There are people who don’t like me. There are people who don’t like my speaking style. There are people who were on my newsletter mailing list two years ago who no longer are receiving it. There may be some of you who disagree with something I have said or done. As I head into full-time ministry, this pattern isn’t going to go away either.

Yet at the end of the day, despite the flattery, compliments, encouragement or criticism, the thing I want to strive for the most is to keep a high level of integrity and character. You may not agree with me, you may not like me, you may never come to the church where I serve, but I hope and pray that my life will reflect the love of Christ and that despite my shortcomings, I can one day be considered a man of Godly character and integrity.

Links of the Week:

Theopedia - An Encyclopedia of Biblical Christianity, www.theopedia.com
The set-up allows for viewers to contribute information on the site about certain subjects, so its no where near infallible, but it is a quick reference tool for Christianity and Biblical Theology.

If you did not get a chance to see the Saddleback Civic Forum, you can view it in its entirety from the CNN website, http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/16/warren.forum/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

Ignite Mission is hosting the fourth annual Out of Range Prayer Conference. It will be an incredible weekend of prayer and worship. Charlie Hall will be playing in concert Friday night, with Tony Merida and Rob Wilton speaking throughout the weekend. For more information, or to register for the conference, visit www.outofrange.org

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