Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)
By Kenneth Heath
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Fred shuffled uncomfortably, not knowing what to say. Bob was the pastor of his Church and as an elder, Fred had been sent to inform Bob that his services had been terminated. Bob was distraught and in tears. How could they do this to him after all these years?
“Why?” he wailed, "tell me this is a joke?” “This can’t be true, after all I’ve done!”
As the pitiful sobbing continued, Fred remained silent. How could he explain to Bob the reason for his termination? If only Bob had taken council from his leadership, instead of forging ahead with his plans of “Church growth”, and ignoring the Word of the Lord.
How far had we fallen? Mused Fred. Had God not said, “a little one shall become a thousand?” And “I the Lord shall hasten it in its time?” Thinking back, Fred recalled the series of events that had led up to this tragic day.
The move of the Spirit was evident in Bob’s small Church. As the Holy Spirit was allowed to move, so the congregation grew. Many talented people started coming to Church and as the vibrant praise and worship reached the very throne of God, so He added to the Church daily. In a small town, social inter action is important and there had been volleyball tournaments, “anything that floats” competitions, sheep on the spit barbeques, soap box derby’s for the kids and more. People could not wait to go to Church, and the town was abuzz about the move of the Spirit in that place.
The youth groups were vibrant and full. Midweek home groups were bulging at the seams and the Church was full to capacity. Through the prophetic ministry, the Lord instructed the leadership to “enlarge your tent” and that the “miracle was in the house” as, He had provided all the skilled men and women required to carry out the alterations to the present building.
Flushed with “his” success Bob refused to consider alterations to the existing building and coerced the leadership to purchase a vacant plot of land and put out tenders for the building of a new Church. Architects came up with a magnificent structure at an exorbitant price and so the congregation was reluctantly forced into a building program.
There was much opposition to this program, but as Bob would not allow secret ballots, the voting always favored him. To disagree meant you were subjected to his wrath, so membership decreased as families moved out of town in protest.
On account of the high costs, the planned building was not constructed; instead a cheaper “temporary” sanctuary was built. Another denomination purchased the old building and Bob’s congregation moved to the new premises.
Pride set in amongst the leadership of the Church and what spewed forth from the pulpit was a tirade of snide comments and comparisons about the other Churches in town. The congregation was constantly harangued with sermons on tithing and sacrificial giving. Gone were the days of the Holy Spirits input into the meetings and the Gospel of Christ being preached. The congregation responded by leaving en masse. The Church had been prosperous and debt free, now it owed over a million rand. Love had left through the back door and a bitter rivalry had broken out between the two pastors further polarizing the situation. Sin reared its ugly head in many forms within the congregation, with adultery being foremost on the list.
Pride comes before a fall, and so it came to pass that in spite of a Word from the Lord, requesting the leaders to come before the remnant of the congregation, and ask forgiveness for their actions, and then move on. They chose not to, and instead they made a scapegoat of the messenger, and vented their anger on him and his family.
Fred reflected on how true the words of Jeremiah 10: 21, (“For the shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the Lord; Therefore, they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.”) had become in the life of his Church. How he longed to tell his friend the truth, but could not, knowing that it could destroy him.
The Holy Spirit remained at the old building where the new congregation enlarged it to suit their needs, and to this day they have a thriving fellowship. Sadly, many of the “scattered sheep” are still shepherd less to this day.
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