The Pattern Among Fallen Pastors

I recently read this article by Garrett Kell and thought it worthy to repost here on my blog.

During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.

Fallen Soldiers of Christ

The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.
After interviewing each man, Hendricks compiled four common characteristics of their lives: 
  • None of the men was involved in any kind of real personal accountability. 
  • Each of the men had all but ceased having a daily time of personal prayer, Bible reading, and worship.
  • More than 80 percent of the men became sexually involved with the other woman after spending significant time with her, often in counseling situations.
  • Without exception, each of the 246 had been convinced that sort of fall “would never happen to me.”
As I reflect on this study, four lessons come to mind. These are applicable for pastors, plumbers, stay-at-home moms, and anyone else who seeks to follow Christ.
1. Sin thrives in isolation.
Satan lives in the darkness and longs to keep us there. Lies live best in the darkness. That’s why when God calls us to himself, he calls us into the church.
God has created the church to be many things, including a community of people who help each other fight sin and love him. He calls us into relationships where we speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:1525), confess sins to one another (James 5:16), and love each other enough to chase after each other if we stray (Matt. 18:10-20Gal. 6:1-2James 5:19-20).
Who knows you? I mean, who really knows you? Who not only has permission, but is currently acting upon that permission to ask you penetrating questions? Are you answering those questions honestly, or are you hiding details and painting over your sin to guard your image? Do not hide from God’s gracious aid of loving relationships.
2. If you flirt with sin, you will fall into sin.
Sin’s slope is slippery. The longer you walk along the edge of the abyss, the more likely that your foot will slip. The men in the study put themselves in dangerous situations again and again. They ignored the words of Solomon, who warned his sons to “keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Prov. 5:8).
These men did not guard their hearts, or the hearts of the people they were supposed to be protecting. Instead, they became blinded by the deceitfulness of sin (Eph. 4:22Heb. 3:13) and were led into the ditch of destruction (Matt. 15:14).
What ways are you flirting with sin? What provisions are you making for the flesh with regard to lust (Rom. 13:14)? What guards have you stepped over? What details are you hiding? What e-mails are you deleting? What search histories are you erasing?
Sin is crouching at your door (Gen. 4:7), and the tempter is looking for an opportunity to pounce (1 Pet. 5:8). How are you making his aim easier?
Flee from sin, don’t flirt with it (Gen. 39:6-12Prov. 5-7, Rom. 6:12-132 Tim. 2:221 Pet. 2:11).
3. Pride blinds us to our weakness.
Many of us think this sort of serious sin would not happen to us, just as those fallen pastors thought. But 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Let us not forget that Samson, the strongest man in the Bible; Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible; and David, the man after God’s own heart, were all overcome by the temptations of sexual sin (Judg. 14-16; 1 Kings 11:1-82 Sam. 11-12Ps. 51). No one is above the temptation to sin in grievous ways. If you doubt, you are on your way to a great fall.
Beware! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
4. Purity is cultivated by loving Jesus.
Somewhere along the line, each of the men in the study began to drift. Prayers became less passionate. The promises of God in his Word grew dusty. Love for Jesus became something spoken of in the past tense. The seduction of sin and enticement to sacrifice all to satisfy inner longings became too strong to resist.
But Christ is stronger. Hear these words of promise afresh:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14–16)
There is no sweeter assurance of help than Christ Jesus the Lord. He stands ready at God’s right hand to supply the grace and mercy we need.
Do not allow your hearts to grow cold toward the Lord who loves you so. Draw near to him daily, moment by moment, in hopeful expectation that he is better than any fleeting pleasure that might entice your heart. Do not seek him only in days of desperation, but seek him daily. Walk with him. Rekindle passion. Plead with him to help you. He is able to do it, and he delights to do it: 
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)
Come Lord Jesus, come.

The Place and Outpouring of Prayer

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." -Ephesians 6:18-19 

"The fountain of prayer and all supplications is sourced in the limitless flow of the Holy Spirit who knows the "deep things of God" - 2 Corinthians 2:10. The Spirit reveals those deep and secret things hidden in the darkness, Daniel 2:22, dark not because some evil or horror dwells there, but dark due to the ignorance of many to its riches. 

Prayer sourced in the Spirit is true worship - John 4:23. It has been weaned from the obstructions of sight and the tantrums of the restless soul. It is prayer that rises above the opaque columnous clouds, above the cyclic rise and fall of the worldly fray, above the frivolous opining of men and far above the frenetic traffic of the "Prince of the Power of the Air". 

When we have entered into the Holiest of Holies, having passed through the outer court of the world and the flesh, passing through the veil by the Cross of Jesus Christ, we discover that meager ability of the soul is too incompetent to comprehend what awaits the believer at the Throne of Grace. Only the prayer whose path was made by our Hero, Jesus Christ the Forerunner, can bring us there. 

That Holiest Place is the altar where the atoning Blood has been applied. There is true freedom from the bonds of the corrupt nature of the flesh and the chainsof theself-consciousnessofthehumansoul. That Holiest Place is the sphere of the Spirit, where we hear the voice of the Word of God speaking to the deepest parts of us, seeing us, knowing us, and counseling us. 

The "Mystery of the Gospel" of which Paul spoke is not an esoteric mystery that cannot be known, it is this very thing - the mystery of knowing the depths of God: His Mind, His Plan, and His Grace. All these await the believer in the Word and in prayer. When we have been alone with Him in prayer and have opened our mouths in prayer, there in secret, we will observe that the Witness of God accompanies us as we preach the Gospel. Prayer sourced in the Spirit always guides us to the Gospel of Christ. Prayer's ultimate heartbeat is to bring the lost sinner into communion with God and his new creation in Christ. 

Prayer without the Gospel is not prayer. Prayer and preaching are married and undivorceable. One cannot be without the other without both ceasing to exist. For when we find ourselves in the midst of His Holiest, time will not tarry long before we hear "Who will go for us?" - Isaiah 6:1-8 

Prayer instills the mystery of a power in us that did not exist there before. It gives us hunger for holiness, missions, service, compassion, and the desire to serve. 

Let our knees be marked with the inscriptions of our floors, let our lips be filled with His Praise, let our souls be stilled in His presence, let our heart burn with the matters of the Lord, and let our minds mull the burdens of the Lord . Let us be those men and women that have the marks of our Savior, that we too may be known as "those that had been with Jesus." For God knows this dying world desperately needs it. 

"There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night; There is a place where thou canst reach the store Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord; 

There is a place–upon some distant shore–Where thou canst send the worker and the Word. Where is that secret place–dost thou ask, “Where?” O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!" ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Story of Squanto - a Little Known Thanksgiving Hero


In the early 1600s, the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-NO-ag) Indians covered the coast of what we now call New England. They raised crops, living close to the ocean in summer for seafood, moving inland in winter to set up hunting camps. Their encounters with Europeans over the years were mostly friendly.
One exception: In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag, along with a Patuxet named Squanto, to be sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom, taught him English, and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto returned to his native land, only to find his tribe wiped out by an epidemic. Thereafter he made his home with the Wampanoag.
Meanwhile, in 1608, a British group called the Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland. There they found religious freedom, but also poverty, grueling work hours and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled into their children. In 1620, they sold everything and indentured themselves for seven years to finance their journey to America.
On the Mayflower, the Separatists were joined by those seeking the new land for other reasons; these they called the Strangers. The two groups, 102 altogether, were called the Pilgrims.
Their journey lasted nine weeks. In one of those "accidents" which change the course of history, the ship lost its course and landed far north of its destination at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once outside the territory covered by the King's Charter, the Pilgrims became responsible for their own government, and so they wrote a set of laws called The Mayflower Compact.
On December 21, 1620, they began their new life at the place they named Plymouth.
It was a devastating winter -- whipped with wind and sleet and snow. Half the Pilgrims died. Still the Separatists clung to their faith; not one chose to return to England with the Mayflower that spring.
But spring brought unexpected relief w the help of a noble and generous Christian brother -- Squanto. He taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, wrote of Squanto that he was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectations."
And so their first harvest was good. Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God and the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and 90 members of his tribe came, along with Squanto, bearing venison and wild turkeys for all to share. Together in harmony, the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted, played games, ran races and showed their prowess with bow and arrow and musket.
How thankful were the Pilgrims? The first Thanksgiving took three whole days!

No Distance Between You & Your God in Prayer

Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. - Daniel 10:12-13

"If thou art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee. He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad." - Charles Spurgeon
It is of great comfort to read the words penned “from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Be glad child of God for our words are heard “from the first day”! This should cheer the wavering saint who labors in prayer!

When we think of international communication and how back in the day it used to take weeks to have a painstakingly written letter delivered to it’s eagerly awaiting addressee, we can truly appreciate the fact that there is no distance between the seeking soul and the listening God. We tend to think of God naturally, in terms of distance, that He is far away in the heavens on a throne, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the sphere of prayer there is no distance, no interference, no walls, no obstacle to catch our rising prayer and cast it to the ground. God is closer to the believer than the believer is to himself. As a matter of a fact, before we pray He knows our prayer altogether - Psalm139:4.

In warfare it is critical to know that there is no distance that our prayer must travel. A whisper of a prayer can be more powerful than a prayer of shouting and pleading with God. Often due to a delay of the answer, we assume there is distance, but contrary to appearance, He instantly hears and He instantly acts.
Yet there are times of a hindering of the execution of that prayer as we see in Daniel’s case. Though Daniel did not immediately know of the delay of an answer due to warfare and hindering, Daniel continued to fast and pray. It is of utmost importance that we cease not in prayer, that we knock until the door is opened. Because the answer is coming and your constancy in prayer is part of the warfare being waged. All too often answers to prayers in transit are halted due to the breakdown of prayer.

When a person begins to discover the power of prayer, the Prince of Persia, the unseen authority of Ephesians 6:12, will begin his hindering program. He will use feelings, pressure, circumstances, people, or personal distractions to get the praying warrior to stumble in his prayer and stop. He will project impulses, fears, bad news, or whatever he can send to stop the prayers.

Were Daniel’s prayers a part of the victory in that Michael the Angel was sent to help get the words to Daniel of the vision? I think so. For when we read the disciple’s prayer of Matthew 6 we read “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The distance between the will of Heaven and the will of God accomplished on the earth is only a prayer away. When we pray, God's will is accomplished. When we abide in prayer, we are an acting agent, an ambassador, that becomes a conduit of the accomplishment of the things of God on this earth.
!We must remember that the devil is the "Prince of the Power of the Air" so he has authority in the air, but not absolute authority. When believers live in their flesh, in the wisdom of this world, they become conduits of the air giving place for the devil, even speaking his mind about God’s people and God’s work. That is why when we are Spirit-filled we can detect demonic activity when we enter certain locales of entertainment, carnal activity, or territories given over to sin.

Be ever aware of the words that you speak and what you put out into the air. Negativity and fear, carnal comments, natural deductions, and personal opinions devoid of truth actually give the devil a stronghold to traffic in the air causing pressure and oppression over people.

It can be clearly observed when we travel to certain countries, and cities that are ruled by corrupt Godless political leaders, how the atmosphere of the country is heavy and oppressed. It is a great joy that when we pray, the atmosphere in which the Prince of the Power of the Air dwells, cannot stop or slow our prayers. Actually when we pray, the atmosphere is confronted and is cleared. Nothing was more effective in clearing the air in the Bible than the spoken Word of God and the prayer of the saints. Just as the air in a lightning storm is ionized and purged, so is the thick atmosphere of Satanic activity in warfare when the prayers of you and I arise.

Quotes from "Fiery Faith" by A.W. Tozer

I've been meditating and digesting A. W. Tozer's book "Fiery Faith" recently and noted for my personal study a series of quotes from his book. I hope you enjoy these and are as blessed as I was reading this spiritually meaty book

• Before there can be any faith there must be enlightenment first - Jn 6.44

• Faith is not abstract and is to be for the immediacy of the physical life - see the words that reflect the physical: "taste & see that The Lord is good" Ps 34.8

• Imagination tries to create - projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them

• Faith creates nothing but simply reckons on what's already there.

• There is no difference between the spiritual and the real - one does not contradict the other - the spiritual is the real

• Faith is present - living in the present of God - people live in their past with God and they're in the future hope in God and the work but live lonely in the present because they live with out present of God in faith

• Christian rationalists, Christian moralists, vs Christian mystics

• Faith never goes contrary to reason - it just ignores the reasons and rises above it

• The original sin was not disobedience but it was unbelief. Unbelief always proceeds sin

• Faith cannot use tangible worlds like "mountain, star, lake" if it could it
would become pagan. Faith uses words that are intangible "love, forgiveness, promises"

•Unbelief is a moral thing. Living in unbelief is demoralizing because it assumes the immoral condition of the heart before it can exist.

• There are things reason cannot do that are beyond it's capacity, for example - “wonder” - "they all wondered at Him" leads to marveling - faith moved forward supernaturally and reason follows wide-eyed in amazement - this is the way it should always be

• A believing Christian is a miracle - the moment you can explain him he is no longer the wonder of a Christian but a religious idealist or religious philosophist

• Faith must rest on not the promises but on God's nature first or the promises are taken out of context and misapplied - promise follower vs Christ follower

• Ps 116.11 we are brought up in an environment of lies Jer 17.9

• Satan’s first attack upon the human race was his sly efiort to destroy Eve’s confidence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.

• Much Christianity since the days of Christ’s flesh has also been grim and severe. And the cause has been the same - an unworthy or an inadequate view of God. Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be.

• They continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42) So says Luke of the thousands who received the Word and were baptized following the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost. Conversion for those first Christians was not a destination; it was the beginning of a journey

• Came the revolution, quietly, certainly, and put another construction upon the word faith. Little by little the whole meaning of the word shifted from what it had been to what it is now. And so insidious was the change that hardly a voice has been raised to warn against it. But the tragic consequences are all around us. Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of God and the cross of Jesus.


• Such a faith as this does not perturb people. It comforts them. It does not put their hip out of joint so that they halt upon their thigh; rather it teaches them deep-breathing exercises and improves their posture. The face of their ego is washed and their self-confidense is rescued from discouragement. All this they gain, but they do not get a new name as Jacob did, nor do they limp into the eternal sunlight. “As he passed over Penuel..." Limping Gen 32.31 

Ponder the Path of your Feet

Sadly, all to often, I see the same disastrous pattern repeat itself - a pattern that is as old as man himself; people get settled & comfortable in a familiar rut that lulls them into a state of ease and passivity where a daily faith walk is no longer characteristic of their lives and Calvary's Cross becomes just optional furniture in the rooms of their soul. It is then the fatal mistake is made in a bad decision or a behavioral indiscretion that leaves a person paralyzed and a casualty. Friend, guard your heart, walk circumspectly and ponder the path of your feet. Take steps of faith in your calling and grow in grace and conviction daily. For the Devil as a roaring lion roams about seeking whom he may devour.