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.


Tigger or Eeyore

I have a tendancy to be a bit like Tigger at times: bouncy, flouncy, full of fun, fun, fun! Positive, upbeat, and loving to be around people.

Then there’s yesterday and today: call it a case of the pastoral Monday blues carried over into Tuesday, I think. Sunday appeared to be a grand day for the Lord’s sake. Solid teaching, uplifting worship, Christ-exalted preaching, spirited Bible study, good fellowship with God’s people. But Monday morning rolled around, a cloud was hovering and a couple of emails seemed to allow that cloud to settle in much more and reading a couple of blog sites brought on the rain and dismal blues. And this morning, Tuesday, after doing further reading, especially related to the Granger Community Church billboard campaign, it is so difficult to have any hope at all for the church of Christ in this country.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe in the Church. I think my convictions regarding the church go way past most people I know, even many EFCA pastors. I am thoroughly convinced of the truth of Matthew 16.18, “…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (ESV) Christ is the foundation of the church and, as His bride, He is preparing her for that grand celebration, the marriage supper of the Lamb.

However, that does not mean that there will be much of a remnant left in this land. The church is growing strong in other countries, but I see the deplorable condition she is in in the U.S. of A. and I can’t help but think that our lampstand is about to be snuffed out. Thanks be unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ, even the most dire warning to the churches, that made to Laodicea, had a measure of hope left in it: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3. 19-20, ESV) May He find many yet who truly love Him and not simply the blessings that seem to come with successful marketing gimmicks, profitable gamesmanship, and earthly antics.

If there is any hope to be found for the true remnant of Christ’s people in this land, it will come from those who see and prize the glory of God in the face of Christ with the eye of faith in this life now. Cherishing the glory of Christ only for what it offers in heaven and not loving it (and Him who shines forth this glory) with a white hot passion now bodes ill for one who professes to be a Christian. Do you want heaven because it will offer many things you’ve looked forward to all your life, but not for Christ? Then you’ll most likely never see heaven unless you repent of your fleshly desires and seek Christ. Are you a pastor that holds forth a gospel that offers peace and joy and happiness in this life only? Do you preach a gospel message that seeks to make much of each person, how special they are, how worthy they are of God’s love without preaching the reality of sin and depravity and hell and everlasting conscious punishment enough to evoke a true “fear of God”? Then the gospel is deprived of much of it’s glory for you preach a shallow gospel, nearly devoid of God Himself.

We must learn to see Christ as all-glorious, both now and for our eternal futures. “He is none other than the Son of God made man. He who was in heaven, above all, Lord of all, lived in the world, having no earthly glory or reputation, obliged to obey the whole law of God perfectly. he, to whom all the angels of heaven and all creatures worshipped, fulfilled all the duties which the worship of God required. he who was Lord and master of the house became the lowliest servant in the house, performing all menial duties. He that made all men in whose hand they are all as clay is in the hand of the potter, observed among them the strictest rules of justice, in ginving to everyone his due, and out of love giving good things to the undeserving. This is what makes … Christ so … glorious.” (from The Treasures of John Own for Today’s Readers: The Glory of Christ, abridged and made easy to read by R.J.K. Law, Banner of Truth Trust, page 59.)

Glory to His Name!