TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY - ACTUALLY, COLORADO SPRINGS
By Debra Rae
November 15, 2006
The Fowler's Snare
When yet another local pastor was caught in the fowler's snare (quite publicly at that), I listened to a righteously indignant young parishioner insist that it was an absolute lie to accuse his pastor of having misbehaved grievously while in a Florida public bathroom. I listened with deep-felt sadness, remembering a similar experience years earlier, when my own pastor was exposed for equally egregious behavior-also in secret, also engaged in over the course of many years. Prior to documented proof, followed by admission to guilt, I, too, could not get my mind around the facts.
No way! It's a lie! I won't accept that a man of God is guilty of such things! Someone set him up! The devil's attacking him with false accusations! The mainstream news media is on the warpath! Anything-anything-but the shameful, painful truth.
All the while this zealous young Christian "stood tall" in his belief that such things could never be true, and no one could convince him otherwise, I prayed in my heart that his love, devotion, trust, and understanding would be redirected-not to a man on what appeared to be a shaky pedestal-but rather to the God of his salvation.
Having walked with God most of my life, I am never surprised at what the flesh is capable of doing. Nor is God for that matter. King David himself was guilty of adultery, murder, and cover-up. Once exposed, he accepted guilt and paid a dear price for it; but then with humility and remorse threw himself on the mercy of God, pressing into His love and forgiveness. As such, David was a man after God's own heart, as the Bible declares him to be.
God's Surprising Expectation of Me
A much revered man of God once asked the question of Billy Graham's daughter, Ann: "What does God expect from us?" As a "preacher's kid," Ann raced through the possible answers. He expects us to pray without ceasing, witness, tithe, read the Bible, live uprightly. Ann's list was endless.
But, then, the answer came as a total surprise. What does God expect of us? According to the pastor-teacher, it is summed in one word-namely, failure. God expects us to fail. That, my friend, is why He sent His only begotten son to die for our sins. Face it. Apart from divine enablement, we "cannot keep ourselves an hour clean." All have sinned; all fall short. Yet we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Next question: Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? God forbid. Without fail, our sin will find us out. Moreover, there is a price to pay, even after our sins are brought to light, repented of, and subsequently forgiven. The saying goes, "As the tree is bent, so does it grow."
Grace Lightly Esteemed
Years ago, a friend of mine had served in Louisiana on a powerful, but diverse ministerial team. It was there she linked arms with a newly redeemed, middle-aged man manifestly full of joy and zeal for the Lord. Having spent most of his adult years in sexual perversion, he had irreversibly mutilated his own body to become someone different from who he was created to be. Even so, God's bountiful grace found and saved him from a life of degradation. Though the residual of a bent lifestyle clearly revealed from whence he came, this man radiated love for his newly-found Savior.
Some time later, my friend heard grievous news that this man had returned to the filth of his previously sinful lifestyle. Stunned, she cried out, "Lord, how can this be? I was into drugs and promiscuity when you found me." "He fell. Might I fall, too?"
Fear gripped her until the still, small voice of God directed my friend to the Bible. There, she read verse after verse about the reverential fear of God. How its presence sustains us all the days we live on earth. How it forever ensures our well-being (and that of our children), so that life in His kingdom is prolonged; and our souls shall dwell cleansed and at ease.
The reason is simple for a believer's falling and, then, continuing in hidden sin. It is failure to fear the most High God. In reverential awe of her Creator, my friend found a place of refuge wherein she was strongly confident that evil will not visit her. Most assuredly, fearing God is the beginning of wisdom.
Sin's Gruesome Wages
Some three years ago, while at the bedside of my dying husband, I was similarly impressed by the gruesome process of death, declared by God to be the certain "wages of sin." I pondered not so much my husband's sins (they were forgiven and washed far away as East from West), but rather sins of mankind in general; indeed, my own sins.
Unpleasant as it was, I once again examined my heart while considering the Lord's great pain in knowing each and every choice of disobedience. I contemplated how sin never fails to reap what it sows. In the end, it truly does earn the disagreeable wages of death. For these reasons, I reaffirmed my lifelong need to take heed, remaining sober and vigilant at all times, lest I too fall from grace.
This mandate applies to the young, the old; the weak, the strong; the rich, the poor; the famous, the infamous; the boy, the girl; the man, the woman-and, yes, the pastor, the layperson. Whenever a fellow believer falls (even an ordained minister of the Gospel), I best face the truth head-on, not practice the deceit of cover-up. At the same time, I turn from view of another's spiritual nakedness, even as Noah's sons turned their faces from the physical nakedness of their drunken father.
Only God can cover and remove the stain of sin. Even so, I can-and will-proclaim good news. The unwelcome wages of sin is death, but then the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ His son.
God expects me to fail; it's my very nature. I need only to repent and turn to Him. However, once forgiven, if I take lightly the manifold grace of God, I am in jeopardy of being as the proverbial dog turning back to its own vomit.
On the other hand, if I practice fearing God-that is, in a spirit of reverential awe-I become as the righteous man of Proverbs who, though he falls seven times, nonetheless picks himself up again.
As was true the day I sat with an irate parishioner in utter disbelief of his pastor's alleged misdeeds, I pray in my heart again today as yet another, very visible member of our beloved family has been found out, so to speak.
Nonetheless, I take hope in the grace and mercy of God, trusting not in the arm of flesh, but instead in the God of my salvation. The church will weather this storm, and our Lord will be found victorious. Clearly, not because of us-but because of Him. Therefore, take heart, fellow believers. Weeping endures but for the night, and joy comes in the morning. Count on it!
© 2006 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com
For these reasons, I reaffirmed my lifelong need to take heed, remaining sober and vigilant at all times, lest I too fall from grace.