Monday, September 17, 2007

This is starting to be a regular thing.....

The Hanford Sentinel ran another article on my lovely husband and this time it was on the front page. I have added the body of the article here, I have made some of my comments in RED to clarify...

Calvary Chapel’s Pensiero makes beliefs very clear

If you're looking for ambiguity, Calvary Chapel Hanford isn't the place to go.

That's because you'll inevitably run into senior pastor Gene Pensiero, a man it's impossible to spend much time with without knowing precisely what he believes.

Ask him how to have faith in the midst of doubt, and he'll tell you to work through it by "preaching to yourself."

Ask him what to do about your marital woes, and you'll get a strong dose of Bible teaching and an admonition that short of physical abuse, you need to work it out.

This is not completely factual. Gene believes you-each person in the marriage, should "die" to yourself and live for the other person. If you do this, your marriage will be a success. He believes you should do what the Bible says and trust that God will work it out for you. I feel that above comment is too abbreviated thus it sounds like he is shallow and without help for those he counsels.

"You need to tell people what they need to hear sometimes," Pensiero said.
That's the M.O. for a man who, for the last 22 years, has been trying to provide a Christian road map to his flock as they navigate the confusions of modern life.

He has not been "TRYING". He has been living a wonderful "Christian" life. If other men would follow his example, they would have a full wonderful life.

Pensiero looks like the years have washed over him like water off a duck's back.

It is genetic! (no pun intended) His father is 80 and looks very young.

He has the face of a 40-year-old, near-perfect health and a youthful exuberance that belies his 52 years on Planet Earth.

He has the theology to match: Clear teachings, specific biblical references and no-nonsense answers.

But as the word "pastor" implies, Pensiero's task involves descending into the troubled marriages, addictions, grief and other problems that his churchmembers fall into.

Pensiero sits them down, tells them what he thinks the Bible teaches and waits for a response.

Some get the message and follow through.

The ones that weigh heavily on him are the ones that go "sideways."

I can't imagine he used the word sideways. I have never heard him even speak that word.

"It's just sad to see people not go with God. You know that they're headed for a shipwreck at some point," he said.

For a while, Pensiero's own life was -- if not headed for actual shipwreck -- at least drifting.

It was the late 1970s, and the 23-year-old Pensiero, along with his wife, Pam, was smoking marijuana, drinking heavily and generally following the trends of the time.

"It was that time when drugs and alcohol were prevalent ... It was enjoyable," Pensiero said.

Pensiero was a nominal Catholic, but nothing in the church had really resonated with him.

Then somebody invited him and Pam to see "Late Great Planet Earth," a film that showed how Biblical prophecy was being fulfilled in modern times.

No one invited him. I wanted to go and see it and we went.

Something clicked in Pensiero, he started to believe that the Bible is true and he decided, along with Pam, to actively commit himself to the Christian message.

We gave our lives to Jesus. It is about a relationship not a message.

A few years later, attending a Calvary Chapel church in San Bernardino, he was invited to become an assistant pastor.

In 1985, he started Calvary Chapel Hanford as an outgrowth of a small home Bible study.

He didn't start Calvary Hanford. (I am sure the ones who did might have trouble with that statement) He was asked to come and be the pastor. It was already a church which grew out of Calvary Chapel of Visalia.

Pensiero's current life is far removed from the reefer-smoking, binge-drinking days of the 1970s. He's now a well-respected pastor, still married to Pam, with a son, Gene, 23, and a daughter, Mary, 26.

We have been married 31 years, Gene is 24 and Mary is 26 (soon to be 27). We also have a wonderful granddaughter!

The fact that his own family is under scrutiny helps temper his preaching, which, he'll readily admit, might otherwise come across as, well, preachy.

This sounds like he somehow modifies his "preaching" to justify our life. We have never minded any scrutiny and I feel we have born it well. Gene in no way modifies his preaching. We live what he preaches which is what we believe!

"I think the danger in the ministry is that it's easier to deal with other people's problems than deal with your own family," he said.

This quote really bothers me. It makes it sound like he was never there for his own family. Gene is and was a great dad. He was a coach for t-ball, softball and baseball. He never ever ignored our family in order to do "ministry". On the contrary, our view was to make our family first. In the beginning of our young life we heard quotes from Billy Graham and J. Vernon McGee. They were asked "if you could do anything over in your life, what would it be"? They answered "I would spend more time with my family". We decided then and there we would not be that person. So, we made it a point to focus on our children. If you look at their lives you will see they are wonderful Godly children who were able to miss the pot holes most pastor's kids fall into. They both love us, the Lord and our church. I attribute that to faithful parenting and especially to the point that Gene didn't let "ministry" come first.

One of the fundamental teachings of Christian theology -- that good deeds aren't enough to get you into heaven -- doesn't hurt either in helping Pensiero maintain a healthy level of humility.

I am not sure what that means. You get into heaven by accepting Jesus as your Savior. Humility is important as far as you have to humble yourself and confess you are a sinner and repent!

Still, he doesn't shy away from taking clear stands.

Churchgoers say they value that quality.

"We've been in churches where everything wasn't quite as clear," said Sharon Lathan, a 13-year member of Pensiero's church who said she's always felt that "Gene was right on."

Thanks Sharon! You guys are the best!

"I look to him as a shepherd, to reveal God's word," said David Brooks, another friend and longtime church member.

Thanks David, you and your wife bless us so much!

Ask Gene if he ever falters, and he'll say that his conviction that Christianity is true overwhelms whatever doubts that might crop up.

One thing that convinces him as much as anything else: The founding of the state of Israel in 1948, nearly 2,000 years after the collapse of the last organized Jewish state in the Middle East.

He sees the event as the fulfillment of biblical prophecies relating to the Jews.

"No one saw that coming other than God," he said.

Pensiero believes faith can flourish amid the doubt and uncertainty of the 21st century.

"I think that people are searching to satisfy that emptiness in their heart," he said.

The creative dynamic of sticking to Christianity while relating it to a skeptical culture is something many pastors are familiar with.

"I think it's a challenge in that we have to demonstrate to the world that Christ and the church are relevant," said Tony Winterowd, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hanford and president of the Hanford Ministerial Association, a group of local pastors that meets monthly for prayer.

Pensiero, believing that such associations may water down the message too much, tends to shy away from them.

Gene is not against the Hanford Ministerial Association. He doesn't usually do a lot of stuff like that because of time constraints. He is a Volunteer Chaplain for the city of Lemoore, and that is where he focuses his free time. It takes a lot of time to go to extra things like the above mentioned group.

But he welcomes any church out there that proclaims what he terms "biblical Christianity."

And given his youthful vigor, it's something he'll likely be doing for a long time to come.

"I fully intend to keep ministering until I die or the Lord comes back," he said.

(Sept. 15, 2007)

So there you have it. All in all a "nice" article, but seeing how things can be misunderstood, it makes me wonder about things we read or hear in the news.


kelly said...

YOU should have written the article! Your version was much more articulate and accurate. I agree with all your comments - some of the article really put a spin on gene that just doesn't exist. What a nice wife you are :)

Marti said...

I wish Gene was MY pastor. (sigh)