Saturday, September 8, 2007

Overcoming Deceptions

This morning I reread an old prophecy from Stanley Frodsham in 1908. A portion of that prophecy really struck me hard and made me realize something I had endured at our old church, but at the time I didn't recognize it. Now looking back (hindsight always is 20/20), I can see it clear as day. What does this have to do with writing? Hang with me and I'll make that point a little later.

Here is a portion of the prophecy:
I warn you to search the Scriptures diligently these last days. For the things that are written shall indeed be made manifest. There shall come deceivers among My people in increasing numbers, who shall speak forth the truth and shall gain the favor of the people. For the people shall examine the Scriptures and say, "What these men say is true." Then when they have gained the hearts of the people, then and THEN ONLY shall they bring out these wrong doctrines. Therefore, I say that you should not give your hearts to men, nor hold people's persons in admiration. For by these very persons shall Satan enter into My people. WATCH FOR SEDUCERS. Do you think a seducer will brandish a new heresy and flaunt it before the people? He will speak the words of righteousness and truth, and will appear as a minister of light, declaring the Word. The people's hearts shall be won. Then, when the hearts are won, they will bring out their doctrines, and the people shall be deceived.

There was a pastor at a church where I was on staff a few years ago. We trusted him impeccably. He preached the true word of God and we knew him to be a godly man. But as time wore on, we began to notice a subtle change in his personality, the words he used to preach and express himself, and the unrest that grew in the congregation. Yet, this pastor did nothing that you could blatantly point a finger at and bring before the Board.

It started as a subtle sin of pride. His sermons gradually evolved to everything that centered around him, his wants, his plans, his doings. He became puffed up and then he began to put down others around him, even other pastors on staff. If someone didn't agree with him about something, he did not embrace them in brotherly love to work out a solution, individuals were called into the office and asked to leave the church. People who had been there 20+ years or more. Feelings were hurt, offenses against brothers and sisters occured, confusion grew, distrust ran rampant, gossip grew, on and on it went until I begged God to get me another job and out of there.

Now, as I reread this part of the prophesy, I see it as clear as day. I know what happened. The people in the congregation had already tested this pastor and approved him, therefore we did not continuously test the spirit in him. We can love our pastors and trust them, but never beyond the point of their being human and incapable of making mistakes or falling to the temptation of sin. They are afterall, human, and as prone to sin as the rest of us.

This is a great setup for a story. We always read about the blatant stories where a pastor has committed adultery, embezzled money from the church, or committed murder, but what about the more subtle sins? These sins still hurt people, break up congregations, cause confusion and offenses that lead into hatred, all the emotional depth a story needs for internal conflict.

As Christians we must remember to test the spirits in people around us, even those we trust. I'm not talking about evil possession (although that also applies), but the fruit of the spirits such as kindness vs. meanness, critical vs. uplifting, encouraging vs. discouraging, deceptive vs. truthful, etc. Can a character grow in his/her faith if he/she will learn to recognize these signs? Can we in real life?

"Test all things; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1 NKJV)

6 comments:

  1. What an insightful post, Jenn. And how true. It is so important that we don't raise up individuals--we raise up the Godly inside them---that's what we look to. God in people.
    That was a sad story about your pastor and congregation. The sin of pride can cause so much damage.
    In this world of publishing it can happen so easily, also. We have to remember we don't do this for ourselves---we do this to glorify our Father.

    I hope you don't mind me adding this, but I have a little weekend contest going on my blog. Check it out if you want.

    Have a great weekend everyone!!!

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  2. Powerful post, Jenn.

    Thanks for sharing the exerpt, your experience and the scripture

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  3. That's such a sad story, Jenn. I'm glad you got away from there.

    And thanks for those scriptures.

    Missy

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  4. A year after I left, the Board finally asked that pastor to leave. I was glad for the congregation, although I continued to pray for him. Leaving when I did was the best thing I could have done for "me." Sometimes we have to learn to let go and move on.

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  5. I've experienced something like that as a church employee also. I think I'll post the devotional I wrote from that experience this coming Wednesday.
    Thank you Jenn.
    Angie

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