Don’t Fall When Ministers Fall

People fail. It happens.

When a minister that you listen to falls into sin, it is disappointing. A punch in the spiritual gut. If you aren’t careful, it can shake your faith too.

A few days ago I learned that a popular minister confessed to acting inappropriately to his female employees. I was shocked. I still am. I enjoyed listening to his teaching – not so much his preaching – and I even went on a tour of Israel with him (along with 349 other people). I have to admit that the report of his fall threw me a bit.

I should know better. I have been disappointed by many ministers in my lifetime.

It’s a miracle that I have continued to be a believer at all. From having a father that was a minister who once told me his members were more important than me to my last pastor who kept looking at his watch when I needed someone to talk to. This latest disappointment reinforces my feelings about church and the ministry. I don’t foresee that I will even return to a church.

Again I have to remind myself that it is more important to follow God than to follow men. These ministers are not substitutes for a personal relationship with God. They aren’t God. They are human and humans fail. It’s just that we hold ministers at a higher level of expectations.

So what is a believer supposed to do when a minister falls? For me, I am removing this minister from my lists of podcasts and I won’t listen to their teachings in the future. It is important to keep focused and maintain my own relationship with God. I know what I am supposed to do and I need to continue to do it.

Yes, I know we are supposed to forgive and we know that God does forgive but we have to be honest that things won’t ever be the same. This minister is now on a “sabbatical” which means he will return when all of this dies down. He will ask a tearful forgiveness and continue his multi-million dollar business in ministry.

When a minister falls into sin and disappoints us, we don’t need to go down with them. What it should do is remind us to keep the faith and work on our own weaknesses. We all have something that wants to bring us down. I have been disappointed by ministers and the church way too many times to let this bring me down.

If I could tell you anything about this it would be that if you like a minister, you need to be very cautious and tie your faith into that preacher or church. It’s okay to like preachers and have your favorites but you’d better be vigilant. Put your faith in God, not man.

Fallen ministers usually trip up in one of three ways: sexual temptation, greed or pride. These things aren’t just limited to ministers but we all must be conscious of them as well but when these things trip up spiritual leaders, it really takes the wind out of us.

Don’t focus on the preacher or the church! It’s about God. Talk to Him for yourself. Just because a minister has a ministry on YouTube or Television doesn’t mean they are right. Just because they promise “blessings” if you will “sow a seed” into their ministry doesn’t mean it will happen. Don’t fall for it.

If you ever listen to someone, make sure you have your brain turned on and alert for those keys words “I believe” and “sowing a seed”. If you are not strong in your faith, you could fall for whatever version of Jesus they are selling.

Many years ago, I drove over a hundred miles a few times to attend a dynamic church in Atlanta, Georgia. The preacher had a TV ministry and it was an amazing experience. Years later it came out that he was having inappropriate relationships with women in the church and a DNA test revealed that his nephew was – in fact – his biological son. When all this came out I wondered if all of what I had seen and heard had been a lie. A show. Playing church.

If there’s one thing about this that I have seen is that if a minister is sinning in secret that God will eventually reveal it. He’s not going to put up with that crap.

Keep the faith. Don’t follow your faith in someone else.

Faith vs. Coronavirus

I will warn you before you read this blog post that this isn’t your typical Christian response.

Over the past couple of weeks, our lives have been changed by the spread of the Coronavirus. After initial denial, the Government is now scrambling to deal with the crisis. The public is panicking and stores are being emptied of essential items.

There is no sense of confidence right now. I don’t think any of us have seen something like this before.

Last Sunday was supposedly a National Day of Prayer. I don’t have anything against prayer but I wonder about how effective this is against a worldwide pandemic. I heard some people on the radio talking about how the sermon of a televangelist who preached a “beautiful” sermon about how we should choose faith over fear.

That sounds good doesn’t it? But how realistic is that? I don’t mean to be critical but having lived a Pentecostal upbringing, I am very familiar with religious hype and pie-in-the-sky claims about what God can do. I have heard numerous preachers make claims about faith and work up the emotions of crowds yet in reality they offer cute catch phrases that people latch onto.

Choosing faith over fear is one of those often used catch phrases.

Let me assure you that choosing faith over fear isn’t going to guarantee that you or your family won’t catch the Coronavirus. Some preachers will make you believe that if you “trust in Jesus” and if you “have enough faith” that you won’t get sick.

Don’t fall for those snake oil promises. Instead, choose faith but understand that you may still get sick or face hardship. Having faith in God doesn’t mean you will won’t be affected. Actually, it may open you up more. The Book of Job is a good example of that. Having faith doesn’t mean you won’t face some serious problems and trials. Having faith means you trust in God regardless of what happens to you. It isn’t a heavenly insurance policy against the Coronavirus.

Listen, I have heard all the cute religious cliches and pep rallies about faith. I’m just telling you as one who has experienced this. Troubles will affect you whether you have faith or not. Having faith doesn’t protect you but faith is the strength you have during adversity. Don’t let anyone skew the meaning of faith for you.

I have faith but I’m still washing my hands and taking all the precautions to protect against catching the virus. Faith doesn’t mean to ignore common sense.

Look, I believe in God and I’m not against prayer or faith. I have faith but I am also prepared to have faith even if I get sick. Yes, I am choosing faith over fear but I’m still going to wash my hands.

Is God For Reals?

I have this thing lately that I do with my grandson when he excitedly tells me something. I say “Are you for reals?” He thinks it’s funny and is convincing me in his own way that he believes what he’s telling me.

There are many beliefs out there in the world. Today, people are less likely to believe that God is “for reals” and it’s hard to convince them otherwise. It simply comes down to whether you believe or not.

When I was growing up, a lot more people believed in God. Today, there are either people who don’t believe or they have other gods they place their beliefs in.

I have seen that there are basically three types of people who don’t believe in God:

First, there is the person that just never believed in God or was never taught anything about God to begin with.

Second, there is the person who bases their beliefs on scientific proof rather than God.

Third, there is the person who once believed in God but at a crucial time in their life they were either hurt by God not answering their prayers or hurt by other believers.

If you are reading this blog expecting me to offer you conclusive evidence that God exists then you will be disappointed. I will not be able to convince you – especially if you are someone described in one of the above categories. I have never seen God nor has He ever spoken to me in an audible voice. I wish He would but He hasn’t it and, if I’m being honest with you, I don’t understand why.

I was raised in the church so my belief in God was formed at an early age. As I got older, I evolved into my own relationship with God based upon my personal experiences and studies. I did go through a period of my life when I was intent on getting God to speak to me. I prayed, pleaded and fasted to induce God to speak to me. I read books and listened to tapes about ways that God speaks to people. Some people I knew personally even claimed that God had spoken to them through other people or mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit. I even bought their tapes and listened to them repeatedly expecting God to do the same for me.

Well, you guessed it, He didn’t and never has. While it still puzzles me. I continue to believe. Without solid and undeniable proof? Yes. Can I explain why I do? No. That’s just who I am. I continue to believe regardless. I often explained to God how difficult it is for us to relate to Him when He doesn’t communicate to us like we do other people in our lives. We read in the Bible how He spoke to those people and did miracles that, if done today, would prove solidify to people that there is a God. Sometimes it really gives God some bad public relations when He doesn’t. I have even caught myself telling God that He missed a golden opportunity to show people that He is God. I’m sure He is amused by my commentary on His lack of activity.

The bottom line is that God is not a genie that we can summon whenever we want Him to appear and grant our wishes. He’s God and we’re not and that isn’t going to change. Sometimes I wonder about these people who claim God spoke to them or this who speaking in tongues thing that some religious folks do to show how spiritual they are.

Speaking of speaking in tongues, let me tell you some of my experience with this alleged method of communicating with God.

I grew up in a Pentecostal church which believed in this thing called speaking in tongues. In many services, people who speak some kind of gibberish language and then someone would “interpret” in English – usually the King James Version of English – to tell everyone else what the Holy Spirit said. Sadly, I would say I saw more of this method as a way of manipulation than it was actually something that came from God. In all of my years in the church I never understood this act of speaking in tongues. I studied it and I tried it but it just didn’t work for me. I knew many people who could speak in tongues instantly but they were difficult people otherwise. I even have known people who could fluently speak in tongues but would cuss you out the next day. I even had a former pastor who would even tell racist jokes. I guess they were out of the spirit huh? I’m still very skeptical of the practice of speaking in tongues. I won’t say it isn’t legitimate in some situations but I can tell you from first-hand experience that it was often not legitimate. I know of a couple in a church where my dad was the pastor who used this practice to tell Him he was wrong in what He was preaching and tried to manipulate the rest of the church into thinking their way about him while advocating how spiritual they were. So, no, I do not have good examples of this speaking in tongues thing.

So, let’s get back to the question….is God for reals? How is it that I can still believe when I have no proof?

I could list a bunch of Bible verses here in this blog but that’s not going to convince you or anybody else. There are people who don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God so if you try to use that as “proof” then that defeats the purpose. People don’t want to hear you use the Bible since it was written by man. I get that. That’s a difficult argument to overcome. They always say “inspired” men wrote the Bible which has been handed down and translated many time over the generations. Even Christians are quickly to hit you with a Bible verse to support their politic view while ignoring other parts which speak to them and their own sins.

So what’s so wrong believing in a God that I can’t prove to you that exists? How terrible is it that I do my best to live up to the principles of the Bible? The Ten Commandments? Jesus Christ? Is that so terrible? Believing in God doesn’t mean you have to be a freak about it and preaching on a street corner somewhere. It doesn’t mean you have to be an activist and preach hate on people who don’t believe.

There will always be skeptics who have their own ideas concerning God and will point to their own evidence and, for some, there will be no amount of proof that will convince them otherwise. That doesn’t mean they’re right.

Even if I told you God has spoken to me in an audible voice or done some sort of miracle in my life, that still wouldn’t prove anything to you since it didn’t happen to your personally. This is why the belief in God is a “personal” relationship. A church and a preacher can’t do it for you, you have to do it yourself. I have heard people say that I would rather believe in God and be wrong than not believe as if they have some sort of “insurance policy” when they die. That’s a pretty weak belief. You either believe or you don’t.

So, I choose to believe. Agree with me or not. That’s your decision. If you don’t believe I can’t debate you into changing your opinion. My only hope is that God will reveal Himself to you in your own life.

Scaredy Cat Faith

I have that scared feeling in the pit of my stomach right now. I hate this feeling. Because of the Government shutdown, I have not received a paycheck and I have been stressing about paying the bills. After being turned down from a bank for a loan to hold us through, I felt myself cracking under the pressure. Instead of giving into the panic I was feeling, I got alone with God and He calmed me down.

I’m still scared but I’m believing God is going to get us through this situation. Faith isn’t always about feeling but about believing. Although I still have that scared feeling in my stomach, I am still believing.

Someone once said that the Bible says “fear not” 365 times which is one for everyday. That’s a good thing because I certainly need to be reminded of that every day.

The Bible says faith is the substance of things hoped for but the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1). That has always been a cute little Bible verse until you have to live it and you are not seeing how things are going to work out. There are some that I have heard say that you can’t have fear and faith together. Okay, so can you introduce me please to this race of super humans because that just doesn’t exist in the real world. I have learned that with believing in God that you many times you have to do it with the fear.

I can have all the faith possible but still feel that scared feeling in my stomach. We have to have a scaredy cat faith. We believe but do so while holding down the fear inside and keep it from overcoming us.

I am scared right now but I believe God will help me through it and make a way. I have also learned that having faith doesn’t mean I can just sit back and do nothing. I still need to look for where God is leading in this situation. He’s not likely going to drop a bag of money on my head but He might lead me to the right person at the right time. I don’t know how He is going to do it but I do know it isn’t faith to curl up on the floor and worry about it. I want to be in position where God will make a way. God wants us to go forward in faith, not sit down and wait for it.

Having faith isn’t easy and sounds nice when you are not facing a crisis. It’s easy to have faith when you are standing in church singing praise and worship choruses off the screen. When you have to walk by faith and go through something is where you make it happen. The bumps and knocks in life aren’t comfortable but the reality of living by faith.

Somehow God will see us through this time. I really hope it’s sooner than later but I’m taking it one day at a time while looking for the opportunities that God could open for me. I’m not into religious cliches. I’m into results.

So how do you have faith when you have that scaredy cat feeling?

  1. Talk to God – a LOT. This is the time you need to ramp up your communication with God.
  2. Be silent. Also take some time to be quiet. These are the times He can calm your soul and the troubling waters inside of you.
  3. Read His promises. Get a list of faith building Bible verses.
  4. Listen to encouraging music. There are some awesome songs out there that will keep you encouraged.

Let me tell you, this isn’t easy. Believing God when you’re scared is no fun. These will be times that will try you and push you to your breaking point. Just keep with it and do it while being afraid.

Trust God: He’s Got This

Trusting in God and His timing is one of the hardest things for me to do. I am pretty sure that I am not alone. We are impatient people. We want what we want when we want it. We don’t want to wait. I’m sure it drives God nuts in how impatient we can be.

My wife has been planning a trip for us and she will routinely tell me that she’s got this. It is her way to keep me from stressing out about it. When someone says “I’ve got this” it means you don’t have to worry about it. They are handling it so don’t stress about it

Worry is such a nasty word. I hate to worry yet I often find myself there. When we pray, we are presenting our desires to God but many times we walk away and continue with stressing about the very thing we prayed for.

God knows us and knows more than anything we could. This is a God who knows the very details of how many hairs we have on our head. Nothing that happens to us surprises Him and you won’t hear Him say “oops”. He’s got everything under control.

Okay, let’s be honest here. It sure doesn’t seem like He does. I know I will even look up in my despair and ask Him does He even see what’s going on. The fact is that He does and He’s not under any obligation to share every little detail of His plan with us.

Just this past week I offered up a prayer about a particular need. It wasn’t one of those on-my-knees-crying-out-to-God prayers. It was a rather weak request but it was sincere, honest and from my heart. I talk to God just like I would talk to you. I presented my request to Him. I would like to tell you that I had all kinds of faith that God was going to do something. I did have a measure of faith but certainly nothing you would be impressed with. The very next day God not only answered that prayer but He did above and beyond anything that I expected. I was totally overwhelmed. I spent the rest of the day thanking Him for it. It was incredible.

I also asked God to help me to remember that moment. Remember how it felt when a prayer was answered. I want to always keep moments like those on my mind when prayers aren’t being answered or when it seems God isn’t listening.

I assure you they God had a plan. Timing with God is important. We pray things and we expect to get them right away. I’ve been doing this a long time and I can tell you that it is very rare for a prayer to be answered right away. Most of the time, it takes time.

There are times when God had to answer prayers around the free will that people have. God isn’t going to force people to do what He wants them to do. He’s moving the chess pieces around to get things in place to answer our prayers. God will often work in ways we cannot see and get our prayers answered in ways we would have never thought of. It can come from totally unexpected places. I know because I often find myself trying to visualize how God is going to do it. Sometimes I will even try to help Him with His plan which I am sure amuses Him.

I’m glad that God is in control and I can have faith that He’s got this.