Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since His Son’s Suicide

Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since His Son’s Suicide

Almost four months after their son committed suicide, Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay addressed their congregation for the first time, promising to remove the stigma of mental illness from the church

Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church (
STAN HONDA / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

Rick Warren has preached thousands upon thousands of sermons, but this message was different. The last time he had stood the pulpit at his Saddleback Church in southern California was on Easter, seventeen Sundays ago — and five days before his youngest son, Matthew, 27, shot and killed himself, ending a lifelong struggle with mental illness. On Saturday night, for the first time since their son’s death, Rick and his wife Kay returned to their 20,000-member congregation. Together they faced the question tens of thousands of Christians have been asking: how are they — two of the world’s most famous Christians — able to hope in God in the midst of their despair?

Thousands of parishioners packed the auditorium and three overflow tents on Saturday for the first of Saddleback’s five weekend worship services. A dozen local pastors all sat in the front row in a show of support for the Warrens, along with Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, producers of the hit television series, The Bible. When Rick and Kay walked hand-in-hand on stage, the crowd stood to their feet in appreciation and applause. Kay began to cry, and Rick kissed her on the forehead as he too grew teary.  “Love you too,” he told the audience. He paused for just a few moments, and then he began to preach.

First he thanked his staff, his church, and, the hundreds of people who have supported them over the last four months. Above all, he thanked the Warrens’ other two children, Amy and Josh, who, he said, had loved Matthew and “talked him off the ledge” time and time again. “They really are my heroes,” he said, voice breaking.

The Warrens spoke honestly about their spiritual struggles with Matthew’s mental illness. “For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life,” Rick preached. “It just didn’t make sense why this prayer was not being answered.” Kay spoke of how she couldn’t even read certain Scripture passages about hope for months after Matthew’s death.

Rick and Kay shared publicly for the first time about how they found out that Matthew had died. On the morning of April 5, both of them had a sense of foreboding that Matthew was not doing well. At 10 am, Rick was at the doctor’s office. He had just been diagnosed with double pneumonia, and so he decided to ask his brother-in-law to give the upcoming sermon, entitled, “What to do on the worst day of your life.” At home, Kay put on her necklace that said, “Choose Joy.” Neither of them could shake the feeling that something was wrong, so the two of them went to Matthew’s house to check on him. His truck was in the driveway, but the house door was locked, and no one was answering. They wept together as they waited for the police to arrive. Then their worst fears were confirmed.

In the four months that followed, the Warrens have drawn comfort from the community of faith, both ancient and new. They have treasured old Biblical passages from the prophet Isaiah — “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” — and from the Apostle Paul — “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” Friends and family have also held them close. “I am in this family of spiritual redwoods,” Rick said. “Satan picked the wrong team to pick on.”

Ultimately, they both hold to the hope that God is with people during their times of trouble, and that God will raise the dead. Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, Kay said, but will be raised in strength. Rick reminded everyone that heaven is coming. He quoted the book of Revelation: “Then God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.”

Rick then made a promise: Saddleback’s next big ministry push will be to remove the stigma associated with mental illness in the church. “Your illness is not your identity, your chemistry is not your character,” he told people struggling with mental illness. To their families, he said, “We are here for you, and we are in this together.”  There is hope for the future: “God wants to take your greatest loss and turn it into your greatest life message.”

For the next six Sundays, Rick will preach a sermon series entitled, “How To Get Through What You’re Going Through.” He will devote a message to each of the six stages of grief: shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification, and service. A larger program to address the specifics of mental illness has yet to be revealed, but it will be similar, Rick said, to the way their church has helped to tackle the HIV crisis.

Then, as the service closed, Rick joined the worship team in singing a favorite evangelical hymn, “Blessed be Your Name.” He lifted his Bible high above his head and declared boldly to the God he serves: “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.”

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/28/rick-warren-preaches-first-sermon-since-his-sons-suicide/#ixzz2aNwonQs6

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief.

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY10:02a.m. EDT April 7, 2013

Thousands are responding to Pastor Rick Warren’s grief with compassion but others use the moment to attack him and his Christian message.

Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide this week.

Uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network “Pastor Rick” built in Southern California, Warren’s nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation and prayer.

But a shocking number are taking this moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on the digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed at him personally and at his Christian message

Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew’s bereaved mother, that there’s no heaven where they’ll meet their son again.

 You can find, among hundreds of comments on USA TODAY’s news story on Matthew’s death, comments such as the Cincinnati poster who says, “Either there is no God, or God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people.” In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to “abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us.”

Some rush to add pain to the Warrens’ world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Prop 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God’s law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.

But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the University of Toledo posted on Facebook: “I appreciate what Pastor Ronald Cole said about the subject of Christian suicide. He said the Lord will say, ‘We weren’t expecting you yet…’ ”

John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone “fair game” and the anonymity afforded by social media that allows people to “send out hate flames without any consequence.”

There are, however, people who won’t let the vitriol unleashed on social media infect the little corners of the world under their own name.

John H. Armstrong fought back on Facebook, saying, “I just blocked someone that I do not know from my wall for saying that Rick Warren’s son went to hell. What is it with people being so sure that they know God’s final judgment? I fear for people like this. This man added that Rick Warren was being judged for being a ‘false prophet.’ Pathetic, cruel and reckless all come to mind. If I’ve seen the evidence of a false prophet this comes close.”

A day ago, Warren tweeted to his 943,000+ followers: “We pray ‘Thy WILL be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN’ since in heaven God’s Will is done #always On earth, it’s done rarely.”

Mario’s note:  Disgusting, inhuman, unimaginable and enraging that anyone can possibly attack Rick and Kay Warren as they cope with the ultimate loss.  The report you just read shows how far we have fallen as a species.  It can be so disheartening to hear such hatred.   Even on our Facebook page, a preacher no less, called this “God’s judgment for teaching the heresy of the Purpose Driven Life.”  I could not block such theological filth fast enough.

How strange for believers to join in this unspeakable cruelty with atheists.  Yet it shows me how much fanatical religion and atheism can have in common.  Neither one has a code of ethics, just an amoral, kneejerk reaction to anything they find disagreeable.  In both cases the hurt in their words is sociopathic in its indifference.  In both cases the message is “nobody cares about your problem.”

Thank God that the tidal wave of support and love for the Warrens far outweighs the cruel unfeeling statements of a few misguided individuals but their existence and their gall in saying such vile things is a tragic commentary on our times.

Rick Warren’s son commits suicide

A 10 year old boy hung himself in the German village because he was so unloved by everyone in the community.  A church refused to allow his burial.  Martin Luther took matters into hand by not only making sure the boy was properly buried but even spoke for the boy in a service.

Why is it he asked, that if a man riding through our woods were attacked, robbed and then killed that we would show nothing but mercy at his tragic end?  But when Satan does the very same thing by  attacking a soul, robbing it of its very hope and then causing its death that we condemn and believe they are lost from God’s mercy.”

Today we have nothing but compassion for the Warren family in this unspeakable loss and pray that the Holy Spirit Himself will comfort them in the loss of this precious young man. 

I can only speak for myself but I believe that this is an occasion for the entire Body of Christ to “weep with those who weep.”  – Mario

Saddleback Church Says Rick Warren’s Son Has Committed Suicide

April 6, 2013 11:50 PM

 

LAKE FOREST (CBSLA.com) — Pastor Rick and Kay Warren’s youngest son has committed suicide, Saddleback Valley Community Church announced Saturday.

The evangelical megachurch announced the death of 27-year-old Matthew Warren in a statement. He died Friday night in his Mission Viejo home.

Rick Warren's son, Matthew, died Friday evening. (credit: Saddleback Church)

(credit: Saddleback Church)

Described as an “incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man,” the statement said Matthew suffered from mental illness that resulted in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now … He struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts,” Pastor Warren said in an emotional letter to his congregation.

“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided … Thank you for your love and prayers back. We love you back,” the pastor said.

On Saturday evening, church services were held at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest but Warren was not expected to attend.

“We’re in deep pain for the family, just hurting for them,” said Sandra Maddox, who attends the church and is a friend of the Warren family. “He was loving and sweet, extremely intelligent and a bright young man.”

“I’ve walked the road he’s going down right now and it’s hard,” Ron Maddox said through tears. The Maddox family lost their daughter 10 years ago and said they understand how painful this must be for the pastor.

In 2008, the church sponsored a presidential forum between Barack Obama and John McCain. They had arranged to do it again in 2012 but Warren canceled several days beforehand, saying he wanted no part in the mudslinging between Obama and Mitt Romney.

In 2009, Warren gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.

Founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church serves the Southern California community with several locations. The pastor is also known for authoring, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, according to the church’s website.

Rick Warren and the nightmare of trying to please everyone.

Rick Warren’s Nightmare is trying to please everyone.

An important lesson for all believers.

As the story goes, a man once tried to get safe passage across the Mason Dixon Line by wearing gray Confederate Pants and a Blue Union Army Coat thinking no one would shoot at him.   Instead everyone started shooting at him.   In the posts below you can see that both sides are indeed shooting at Rick Warren.

Rick made a clear mistake.  He is totally misreading the times that he lives in.   He and Bill Hybels are credited with perfecting the seeker model for Churches.  If by some slim chance you do not know what the seeker model is here is a short working definition:

This seeker friendly purpose driven Church growth movement is founded on corporative marketing strategies and pop psychology concepts that are known to be successful to reach large numbers of people. Most of the theology of Christianity that is less appealing to the world is shrouded so it will not be an offense to anyone.

Here is the problem.  Seeker models are based on a society that no longer exists.  Obama poisoned the dialogue.  He has so polarized America that everyone is forced to take sides on every issue.   Time was that Rick could avoid comment on all of these issues and just kept with the pop psychology.

This also means that the end of the seeker model is at hand because Christians are speaking out about compromise more than ever.  You will see the attendance begin to drop in Churches where the Pastor sounds like he is quoting fortune cookies.

What Obama has done is remind us that we are in a war.  He attacked our faith.  He made it clear that Jesus has no seat at the Obama agenda table.   Essentially, what happened is Gays, and all other activist groups wanted to know where Rick stood on the issues.   The seeker model is not designed for clarifying issues.   The hunt for clarity is on both sides.

This is why you will see more unapologetic Bible preaching.  A growing number of people are demanding it.   Obama caused that as well.  He made it okay to bash Christians.  Bashing Christians had a unique effect on the Church.  It unified and intensified doctrine and conviction.

Simply put, the neighborhood is now too noisy for the seeker model and all pulpits are being forced to come clean.  The seekers are no longer so friendly.

Thinking of taking your Spirit-Filled Church to a seeker model?   It is a clear path to disaster.

So here we see Rick trying to walk a tightrope on homosexuality and it backfires with Christians.

Rick Warren Uncertain if Homosexual Behavior is Sinful, Says ‘Gays’ Go to Heaven

November 29, 2012 |Heather Clark

Controversy is stirring over recent comments made by Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life and megachurch leader of Saddleback Church in California, who stated that homosexual behavior “might be” sinful, and that he believes homosexuals go to Heaven.

During an interview this week with theHuffington Post, Warren was asked by Marc Lamont Hill if having romantic feelings for a member of the same sex is a sin. Leading up to the question, Warren was explaining that he does not hate homosexuals, and that people should disagree politely on the subject of homosexuality.

“What about the love part, though? I hear about the AIDS part,” asked Hill. “It’s not illegal to love somebody,” Warren replied.

“But you think it’s a sin,” Hill asserted. “No, it’s not a sin to love somebody,” Warren said.

“It might be a sin to have sex with them,” he added. “It might be.”

Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality stated that he was shocked at Rick Warren’s comments.

“It’s also sinful to lust after another man,” LaBarbera said. “We can’t advocate sin as believers, and we have to think about how that the person that’s struggling with homosexuality is going to hear this.”

“There is no Biblical basis for his statements,” he added. “I think Rick Warren needs to retract that [‘might be’] statement and clarify it. If he does not retract it, he has fallen into error.”

“Rick Warren has a heart for lost souls, but he seems fearful he’ll offend people he could otherwise lead to salvation by telling the truth about their sin. That may indicate an inadequate faith in God’s sovereignty, or a failure to fully believe God’s Word has the power to transform lives,” Mason concluded. “I pray he’ll find the courage to be just as determined to be the salt of the earth as he is to be a light to the world.”

Requests for comment were not returned by Saddleback Church.

Now we see that all of that effort to gain secular acceptance not only alienated people in the church.   The gay community still thinks you are hateful

Rick Warren Doubles Down, Accuses Critics Of “Christophobia”

 

Via John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, Rick Warren is doubling down and accusing his critics of “hate-speech” and “Christophobia.”

Rachel Maddow has the video, and takes Warren to task for the hypocrisy of saying that it’s unfair to call his views hateful while simultaneously accusing his critics of hate speech. Moreover, as Rachel notes, Warren flat-out lies about his comments comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and incest.

Setting aside Warren’s role as inaugural invocation speaker (for a brief moment), I don’t think there’s any way to defend what he is now saying. I accept the proposition that it’s possible to disagree on the issue of gay marriage without calling someone names.

But there’s really no comparison between gay marriage and incest or pedophilia, and if Warren thinks they are equivalent, he’s either a fan of incest and pedophilia, or he has serious problem with gay people. And calling his critics “Christophobes” just makes matters worse.

A simple apology from Warren for having made the comparison probably would have made this whole controversy go away. But now he’s doubling down, and it’s just making matters worse.