Pastor’s Treasure Hunt


Why am I not surprised by stuff like this?

Oh, by the way, “Hi. I’m back.” Yeah, I know. It’s like been forever since I was here (back in February, I think). I took a break for several reasons: 1.) I was getting way too stressed out trying to come up with stuff every week or twice a week (I’m not sure who was expecting me to keep up to that level of blogging, but it was there in my head somehow); 2) all the good stuff gets blogged about by all the good bloggers. So what does that make me and my blog? Well, that’s up to you to decide.

Anyway, back on topic: Why am I not surprised when I hear that an Evangelical Free Church pastor and his family are competing on the television show, “Treasure Hunt”; and, that they’ve become the most despised group on the show by other contestants and viewers? First of all, I’ve never seen the show and don’t plan on watching it even now. Second, since I don’t watch, this topic came to my attention through my Christian Macintosh Users Group. As I warned all the people in that group: don’t judge pastors, other Christians and the EFCA by what you’re observing here. It seems that this family, the Fogals, have back-stabbed, cheated, lied and been caught on camera as saying, “It’s okay to fib a little; we’ll ask for forgiveness later.” The other contestants are now asking one another if they’ve been “fogal-ed” by the Fogal family.

Several questions arose in my mind when I heard about this:

First, what’s pastor doing applying to a TV-unreality show in the first place. Obviously, he doesn’t have enough to do in his own church. To which I would reply: you think you don’t have enough to do now, wait’ll you get back from the TV show. You’ll have an empty church waiting for you.

Secondly, where was the discernment of the leadership of the church when Pastor Fogal came with this request? Or did he even mention it? Perhaps he simply said, “I’m going to be taking about two months of vacation all at the same time, don’t ask where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing ‘cuz it’s none of your business as the elders of this church!” Apparently none of the elders are aware of 2 Timothy 2.4-7 (ESV): “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-woring farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” I could think of other passages, but this one pretty much does the trick.

Thirdly, will there be any kind of discipline exercised by the church leaders upon his return? Or will any be exercised by the EFCA district in which he serves? I doubt it, for a couple of reasons: if the elders of the church would let their pastor do something so distracting and removed from the gospel in the first place, they’ll hardly be biblically prepared to handle such a disciplinary measure; and, the EFCA is so loose in areas of discipline along these lines that there’s really not much they can do (at least that I’m aware of, and I’ve been a part of the EFCA all my life; as a pastor, for 20+ years). If the reformers were right, that church discipline is one of the key marks of a true church, what does this say about the church of this pastor?

Richard Baxter, in his classic, The Reformed Pastor, speaks to matters such as this for pastors (no, not whether they should be on TV programs or not! Whether the pastor is exercising the work of grace in his life or not.) I’ll not quote from the book other than to direct my good readers (all two of you) to Chapter 1, Section 1, The oversight of ourselves: the nature of this oversight: see that the work of grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls (are you even a Christian?) and see that you be not only in a state of grace, but that your graces are in vigorous and lively exercise, and, see that your example contradict not your doctrine; and see that you live not in those sins against which you preach in others (hard to see how this pastor will be able to come back and do much good preaching on the sins of lying, cheating and backstabbing).

I’ll not provide the church’s information/website where this pastor serves(-ed?). You can find that on the web with a simple google search. Over the past couple of days, their “Contact Us” link has either been too busy to work or just turned off for a period of time. Huh, imagine that.

Now my prayer is: Lord, prevent me form such foolishness. Keep me from sin in my own life. Allow the grace which you lavish upon me daily flood my soul by the working of Your Holy Spirit in such a way that only glory is brought to Your name through me and not shame.

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3 Responses

  1. Hey,
    I was blessed by your blog! Thanks for your honest heart and truthfulness, it is refreshing to hear someone be real. Its cool to read about real people who serve Jesus.

    I am a musician, and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All music on my site is free for download. Anyway, don’t want to be a pest, I just thought that I’d share.

    Thanks,
    -Sean
    _____________________
    http://www.SeanDietrich.com
    “All my music is free.”

  2. Dear Pastor,
    I googled the Fogal family as I’m watching the show just because I was curious about them and I was shocked by your essay on the family.

    I’m just a 21 year old college student who believes firmly in Jesus and His grace, and I have no other credentials than that.

    Why are you pointing out the sawdust in this family’s eye and ignoring your own? ALL have sinned and we all will continue to sin, we have all fallen short of the glory of God, and Jesus would’ve had no reason to die if we were capable of doing it on our own. We needed Him to be able to reach God, without his grace we would be nothing, every last one of us. But fortunately we have that grace, and there’s nothing we can do to lose it- it happened over 2,000 years ago.

    Your essay seemed to voice yet another reason why so many feel uncomfortable going to church: because that’s where they feel the most judged, instead of feeling the most loved, which is what we’re supposed to be doing and feeling through Jesus.

    I understand your frustration, pastor. Sin certainly is frustrating. It can only be defeated by love. God’s love can combat anything, including your own temptation to judge (as well as mine). Actually, sin is anything that keeps us from God, and because God is love, sin is that which keeps us from His love. Judgement is product of us not being able to Love and to receive Love as HE does.

    I pray that you take on that greatest commandment and show God you can do the impossible: simply love this man, and his family. Pray for him to be BLESSED. He and his family are not perfect and thank God for that, because that is what grace is for. They are the hurt, the meek, the poor, the ones Jesus said would inheret the kingdom of God- the sinners, those that heckled him on the cross. That’s every last one of us.

    The Jesus I know came to love the world, to free the world. Love is SO powerful that Paul wrote these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of those three was then, and is now, love.

    -Suzy
    UC Santa Barbara student–>

  3. Suzy,
    Thanks so much for taking the mature and spiritual high road on this! With all the hate mail I’ve been getting this past summer (mostly from so-called Christians), it’s really encouraging to hear from someone who practices the love that ‘believes all things’ by assuming the best in others, especially fellow believers. The legalistic pharisee-ism out there in the church today is so rampant! We played the game with integrity, and anything you saw to the contrary was due to ‘creative editing’. Someone told me that at times it looked like we were “fed to the lions of editing in the collisium of television entertainment!” I have to admit that I felt like a martyr at times, but the shows finale in August revealed in many ways the grace, friendship and good sportsmanship that was really there all along (thanks to our Christian friends on team AirForce). Please check out our website at http://www.teamfogal.com to get more backgroud on how the Lord used us in some powerful ways – to God be the glory!!
    Blessings,
    Pastor Brad Fogal
    P.S. Kevin, you owe me a big apology bro! Maybe we’ll discuss it further someday in heaven! 🙂

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