Friday, February 12, 2021

The Fall Of Ravi Zacharias

      It has been known for a while now, but I only learned about it yesterday (2-11-21). Perhaps the greatest Christian apologist of our time, Ravi Zacharias, who died on (5-11-20), had been living a double life . I first saw it mentioned on social media. Of course, that made me immediately skeptical, so I looked into it. It led to "hours" of looking into it. It ended with me on his website, reading a long apology from those still working in the ministry he founded. 

    The sin of Mr. Zacharias was "sexual sin." The charge was brought by numerous women. The details are graphic. I am not going into those details. 

     Just like me, when the first charges came, those at the ministry refused to believe them. Mr. Zacharias vehemently denied them. They stood behind him, and defended him. They posted their support of him on the website. They impugned the credibility of the women who had brought the charges. However, after his death, as evidence was mounting, they hired a law firm to investigate. The law firm found overwhelming evidence that the sex charges were true. Those working at the ministry, who had previously defended him have offered a long, and sincere apology to those who brought the charges, repented, and asked for forgiveness. 

     There is much more to this story, but I will leave that at that. So, why am I even mentioning it? Because this news hit me HARD. As I mentioned this on Facebook, and that I was removing quotes of his from my website, I received comments from several friends pointing out that I was "flogging" him for his sin publicly, or that I was perhaps failing to understand his "humanity," and that we must be careful about putting Christian leaders on a pedestal. But, it isn't that....

     I learned long ago not to put pastors or Christian leaders on a pedestal. I have seen too many fall. Nor am I "flogging" Dr. Zacharias publicly. My favorite verse in the Bible is (1 Cor 15:10), "But by the grace of God I am what I am." I truly believe that if not for God's grace, ANY of us could fall. ANY of us could commit ANY sin. To me, one of the most dangerous sentences is, "I would NEVER do that." That is "pride," and "pride goeth before a fall" (Prov 16:18).

     No, my devastation comes from three things that his "secret life of sexual sin" has left behind.

 #1. Of course, the horrible pain he has left for his wife and children to face. The husband and father they knew was not who they thought he was. Their lives will never be the same.

#2. The impact of his sin on the significant ministry he left behind, and how it will affect that going forward.

#3. The destruction of his future legacy.

     There is a quote from David Jeremiah that I heard many years ago, and I have never forgotten it. I am paraphrasing, "I could take everything I have built up over 35 years in my ministry and destroy it all if I went out tomorrow and committed one act of rebellion." Honestly, I believe that is exactly what Mr. Zacharias has done. His defense of the Christian faith was unparalleled in recent times. The truth he spoke, and his Biblical teachings are no less true because of his "secret life of sin," but their impact will never be the same.

     For example, as I was erasing his quotes from my website, here was one of them: 

"It is a mindless philosophy that assumes that one's private beliefs have nothing to do with public office. Does it make sense to entrust those who are immoral in private with the power to determine the nation's moral issues and, indeed, its destiny? One of the most dangerous and terrifying trends in America today is the disregard for character as a central necessity in a leaders credentials. The duplicitous soul of a leader can only make a nation more sophisticated in evil."

     Knowing what I know now, can you guess what I think when I see this quote? And, that is my point. What he said in that quote is "totally" true, but knowing what he was doing when he said it.... It diminishes its impact. Honestly, one word comes to mind, "hypocrite." And, one of the top two reasons why many non-Christians hate Christians is, "So many Christians are hypocrites."

     Going back to the David Jeremiah quote, one of the most terrifying things to me personally is that I have spent 19 years building the JesusAlive ministry, and in "one act of rebellion," I could destroy everything. I could destroy my wife, my children, those I minister to, my credibility, my legacy, forever.... I pray for God's help and strength not to do this: EVER. I set boundaries. I try not to open doors for the enemy. I try to be accountable. 

     "That" is why I am saddened and burdened by the story of Mr. Zacharias. It isn't that he sinned, because we all do; it is that his failure to "turn" from his sin at the first beginnings and repent has forever tarnished his legacy. I am terrified it will happen to me. Lord, please help me!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

"My" Perfect Church

     Have you ever had a time when you get frustrated with your church? I think almost everyone has. Then, perhaps like me you do the: "If I was in charge, this is what I would do." In my mind, I create the "perfect" church. Of course, "My" perfect church will never exist. Why? Because my Bible based church is a mish-mash of doctrines and beliefs. One is associated with one "denomination," and another associated with another "denomination." One is accepted by one "denomination," and condemned by another as un-Biblical (i.e. different views on baptism).

     In other words, I am definitely "NOT" Reformed, nor Pentecostal, nor Baptist, nor Catholic, nor do I really fit with "any" denomination, but I believe each has some things right from a Biblical viewpoint (yes, even Catholics - I respect their strong, unrelenting stance against abortion).

     So, what does "My" perfect church look like? I have made a list of things (not complete) that would help make a church "perfect" for me. Of course, I know that what makes a church "perfect" for me, is not what would make a church "perfect" for you. But, perhaps, we share some of the things below in common. 

***NOTE: It is a given that this church must hold to the "essential doctrines" of the Christian faith: i.e. the infallibility of God's Word, the deity of Jesus, and His sinless atonement for sins, the triune God, the Resurrection. I discuss these "essential doctrines" in more detail here.

     Here we go!

I want my church to believe that all of the spiritual gifts are for today, but not to misuse them (i.e. like tongues and prophecy often are).

My church will "not" teach that babies are "born sinners," nor will it baptize babies, or believe that baptism saves.

I want my church to be a place filled with people of "all" races, who worship and grow in God's Word together in unity.

I want my church to be a place that, if we suddenly shut down, the community would suffer.

Since I enter into worship more with contemporary music than hymns, that is type of music my church will play.

While I believe the Bible is clear that women have important roles to fill in the church, they should not have a position of leadership over a man. (My church cannot have women "pastors.")

The preaching in my church will be expository! Chapter by chapter, verse by verse. (Topical preaching is ok from time to time.)

I am not concerned with what people wear in my church (as long as it isn't immodest).

Of course, my pastor will preach on "love," but will also preach an equal amount on "Hell and sin."

My church will powerfully share the Gospel EVERY week, and people will be given an invitation given to come to the altar, confess their sins, repent, and pray to receive Christ. People who have a gift of evangelism will be at the altar to guide them through this process.

When I enter the doors of my church, I don't just want to be "greeted," but I want someone to actually engage with me in a conversation, and get to know me a little better.

When I leave my church, I want to feel convicted to change the world for Christ.

I want to sense that the worship team is actually worshipping, and not just playing music.

Having a vibrant "small group" ministry, to connect with others in my church is "very" important to me. I also want these groups to spend at least part of their time together in God's Word.

I want my church to place an emphasis on supporting missions work, and sending out missionaries.

I want to be able to use my spiritual gifts to serve within my church, and for all fellow Christians to be able to do the same.

I want to see and know that there is a solid group of elders and deacons leading my church that meet the qualifications for church leadership as laid out in the Bible: Elders / Deacons.

If I have a need for prayer, I want to know that there is a group of "prayer warriors" within my church that will commit to pray for my need.

When my church partakes of the Lord's Supper / Communion, I want my pastor to make it "clear" why it is for believers, and not for "unbelievers."

I want my church to be a place where you walk in, and you can "feel" the power of the Holy Spirit!

My church will have a heart and burden to train and equip the next generation to serve the Lord. 

     I know that I will never find "My" perfect church, but I think that I would be happy to find a church with even 3/4 of these traits. I am always looking ☺! If you have one, I would love to hear about it. Also, feel free to share anything you would add to this list.

***P.S. If I haven't made it clear, "My perfect" church will be made up of "imperfect" people. However, I believe that if my church has of many of the things in the outline above, it will be fully prepared and equipped to evangelize, Biblically disciple, train, support, pray for, bless, and minister to the "imperfect" people within it (including me), and empower "them" to minister to those outside the church.

Related: How do I find a good church?

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