Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: CRYBABY CHRISTIANITY

Friday, March 23, 2007

CRYBABY CHRISTIANITY

The "downfall" of yet another well-known SBC Preacher and Evangelist has tipped me over the edge. I haven't posted about this in the past, but I will now. Mostly because I know this man, and lots of my friends go to the church he founded.

He's even been an evangelist of some repute, receiving compliments and accolades from respected and wise people. I won't name him, but since it's public, I can refer you to the article I just read, if you really want to know. You'll hear soon enough, trust me. In the meantime, please pray for his family and church, and he himself. He needs all the prayer support he can get, and then some.

I have heard SO many lessons and sermons telling us how hard it is to lead a Christian life. Walk the straight and narrow. Avoid all them ugly sins. Well, I don't buy it. Jesus said His burden is easy and His load, light. So why do folks say things like how hard it is to "live up to" a true Christian walk? Simple.

We don't want to.

Think about it .. how many times have you heard the question "Is it all right for a Christian to ___________?" (Fill in the blank with your favorite dubious activity). What that question is really saying is "How much like the world can I be and still be a Christian"?

Put another way, rather than asking "How much like Christ can I be and still be in the world?", the question becomes "How much like the world can I be, and still be in Christ?" Friends, that just won't wash.

I do not see any part of the Christian life as being all that hard, if you want to do what you're supposed to. Getting up early on Sunday morning, starting early to be there on time, being faithful to your spouse, tithing, using your Spiritual gifts in His service, praying, the giving of offerings, all of it is easy if you want to do it. But it's anything but easy, if you don't.

My commitment to my wife is non-negotiable. That is a pre-made decision on my part, and there has never been a woman drawing breath that could change my mind. Not because I'm a hero, not because Peg is all that whatever, but because that's what I want to do. And as I've grown, I become more zealous of that and unwilling to let anything even threaten her security. I'm not perfect, but heck, this is something I CAN do!

Is this desire of my own doing? Nope, I think it came from God. Like ... He said so. Do I need God's help to continue that? Of course. Will difficulties arise therein? Sure. But none of that will change my mind.

A lot of ink has been spent on men and lust. Well, I'm glad. But God said resist the devil and he WILL flee; and when confronted by sexual temptation, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Those are things we CAN do ... unless, of course, we don't WANT TO. And that's a decision process in our mind, and we do have control over it.

Other temptations? He told us how to handle them; we just need to take the escape route promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13. But we have to DO that!

As a side note, I think this and the other famous "outings" we've seen lately are another sure-fire sign that these are the end times. Paul stated that Jesus gave Himself up for His church, so that He might present her to Himself as a spotless and radiant bride. Well, I think the spot-removal and radiation treatment is under way.

I'm not all that holy. But I am convinced that the "crybaby attitude" I see among too many Christians, and taught by too many teachers, leads people to think they cannot really succeed at living a holy and sanctified and abundant life that's worthy of emulation by others.

Paul said he did, and if he could, so can we.

Or so says God, anyway.

39 Comments:

At 12:00 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

James 1:13-15

13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

 
At 4:26 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Alycelee said...

There's just nothing else to say but AMEN

 
At 5:38 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Rob, for stopping in. I'm not sure I understand the comment but the scripture is certainly apropros.

Good to see you, Alyce, and thanks for the kind word(s).

 
At 6:58 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Debbie said...

Bob said: "My commitment to my wife is non-negotiable. That is a pre-made decision on my part, and there has never been a woman drawing breath that could change my mind. Not because I'm a hero, not because Peg is all that whatever, but because that's what I want to do. And as I've grown, I become more zealous of that and unwilling to let anything even threaten her security. I'm not perfect, but heck, this is something I CAN do!"

Ditto to my husband of almost 23 years. I have worked in environments that were male/female and I have never wanted to cheat on my spouse. Maybe I am being blind or hard here, but immorality is not something I understand from any Christian, no matter who they are.

 
At 11:43 PM, March 23, 2007, Anonymous swampwitch said...

Is it right for a Christian to 'judge' others?

 
At 7:21 AM, March 24, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Debbie: I could have guessed that about you & hubby.

Swampy: I could write a book about that, but let me say it depends on what your definition of "judge" is.

In the original language, the word is to decide mentally. By implication, it means to decide guilt. In this case, the pastor confessed to the adultery. Now, his congregation is responsible to hold him to the standards of what he preaches, for to allow him to continue would be to violate 1 Corinthians chapter 5. That instructs us to cast the adulterer (and certain others) out of the church and not even fellowship with him.

Second, he preached the gospel and willfully committed adultery. I never heard him, personally, preach marital fidelity but the whole counsel of God certainly does, and he violated that while the leader of the flock. Where that's the case, that's hypocrisy, which is condemned by God.

1 Corinthians mandates the (local) church cast such out of the church, which requires judgment. Other folks must observe Romans 14:4.

Anyway, thanks for looking in and commenting.

 
At 10:22 AM, March 24, 2007, Blogger GuyMuse said...

I am enjoying a quiet Saturday morning on my third cup of great Ecuadorina coffee, reading through several blogs. I would just add my AMEN to a good article.

However, I think what you write is much easier to accomplish for those of us who have been trained up and disciplined in these ways over a life time.

Here in Ecuador the believers are almost all first generation Christians. They are coming out of centuries of darkness and ignorance, living lives just the opposite of what you write. Even as Christians, it is very difficult for them to overcome generations of fleshly living and sin. I see them struggling with these things much more than I do. There are many who fall by the wayside and have great struggles to live the same committed lifestyle that you and those of us commenting write about. The darkness runs very deep in this country and Satan works overtime on the souls of newborn souls trying to pull them back into the ways of their ancestors. I daresay, overcoming the past takes more effort for many of the new believers we work with than it does for those of us who have spent years in the faith. While committing adultery is simply not an option for me, it is a daily struggle for many of our fellow believers. Many of them fall into sexual and other sins of the flesh, even as Christians.

I thank God everyday for the strong Christian heritage, upbringing and background that have been of tremendous blessing and assistance to my own Christian walk. May God grant all of us the grace to live in a manner pleasing and worthy of Him who paid the price for our sin on the cross.

 
At 11:14 AM, March 24, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Guy: I understand.

Our first mission trip was 1970 to Haiti. Talk about first-generation out-of-darkness believers!

Sin is sin, but here we've been raised in a culture where it's OK to be Christian and the problem IMO stems from people making the wrong decisions, and starting their own bad habits and their own heritage of evil. My real point is, I suppose, that I don't want to teach or affirm that such things are normal and expectable for each individual "me" out there. We just don't have to, but continue to give ourselves permission to sin. If we don't stop doing that, we won't stop the sin, either.

Incidentally our team that went to Cuenca came back last week, higher'n kites. They wrote about it here.

 
At 12:11 PM, March 24, 2007, Blogger GuyMuse said...

Bob, thanks for the link about the group going to Cuenca. That part of the country is beautiful and we love the times we occasionally get out of the coastal heat and up to the cool mountain air for a visit. However, like most parts of the "sierra" of Ecuador, there is much darkness and few believers. Glad your group was able to come and minister to the lovely Cuencanos. Who was your contact there? I know several of the Cuenca missionaries.

 
At 6:57 PM, March 24, 2007, Blogger Chandra said...

Bob, We just got in from Atlanta and saw this on the front page of the paper. This was quite a shock for us because we have heard him speak several times. We didn't know him personally but had met him and knew people who knew him. I feel heartbroken for this family because of what we have been dealing with in Sunday School. We have seen how sin can take root in one's life even when it would seem like the most unlikely person to be susceptible to a particular sin.

With Alex teaching "Every Man's Battle" right now, we know all too well how prevalent sexual immorality is even in the Christian circle. I don't think Christians go around thinking about what all they can get away with. It seems to me that sometimes even good Christians have desires. That's our sin nature. It is ugly! That is what I got from the scripture Rob quoted from James. Those desires can lead to sins, and sins as we also have seen can lead to our death. We have to be vigilant in keeping the focus on God or we could be guilty of giving into the same types of evil.

 
At 10:41 PM, March 25, 2007, Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

Bob,

I was sick when I heard about Rick. He is one of the most gifted speakers I've ever heard. Sad.

 
At 6:56 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Me too, Kevin. But, as my pastor said yesterday, God will bless the message, whether He blesses the messenger or not. That part depends on the messenger.

I thank God He's given me whatever it took to avoid such things in my own life.

 
At 7:28 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger jasonk said...

Where is the outrage when a pastor lies about how many people attended his church on any given Sunday?
Where is the outrage when a well-known national speaker/pastor/evangelist destroys another man's character through gossip or slander?
Where is the outrage when a person lusts after a person of the opposite sex, or displays sinful pride?
I appreciate your faithfulness to your wife through nearly four decades. I admire you. But to boast about that, as if it were something that you accomplished through your will, seems prideful. Believe me, if given the right opportunity, you would cheat on your wife like a house on fire if given the chance. How do I know this? Because I know the heart, that it is desperately sinful, wicked, like a grave--decorated on the outside, but filled with decay and death on the inside.
I had a nice chat a couple of weeks ago with a good friend who happens to be a pastor. I told him that I admired his faithfulness to his spouse. He politely thanked me, but then said that he is a sinner, and his faithfulness to his wife was nothing he could brag about.
Instead of criticizing this pastor for his affair, perhaps we should support him with our prayers and letters. Instead, we go online and spend the weekend talking about how easy it would have been for him to just be faithful. How prideful.

 
At 7:41 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Jason:

You can read whatever you want into my post. But when you say I'd cheat on my wife if I was given "the right opportunity", you reveal that you really really don't know what you are talking about. You REALLY don't.

Furthermore, the subtle implication is that no man can live up to his marriage vows, since we all have such terrible hearts.

The purpose of preaching and teaching is not simply to tell us how terrible we are. It's to instruct us on how to live a life of holiness. Your message is that we cannot do that. And that implication is pure nonsense, if not counterproductive to those who are striving to reflect holiness in their lives.

But it all takes a decision, first and foremost, that we want to live an exemplary Christian life. You need to make that decision for yourself, and stop encouraging others to simply give in to the flesh, since you seem to think it's futile resist it.

Thanks, and I do mean that, for looking in and commenting. I'm not just out looking for "yes men".

 
At 11:46 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

Jason,

With all due respect, I don't think Bob or any of us are blasting Rick.

I guess the reason this hits home is because this “Bama” boy and Samford Grad looked up to Rick. Brook Hills was like our Saddleback or Willowcreek. All of the Bama guys respected Rick and that church. My big brother in my Frat @ Samford was on staff there for 10+ years. I know of people whose lives were changed because of what God did there.

Bob,

Thanks for sharing about your marriage. Guys like me who have been married 19 years need to see that it is possible to make it a lifetime.

 
At 11:52 AM, March 26, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Kevin. I have many heartbroken friends at Brook Hills.

 
At 9:45 AM, March 27, 2007, Anonymous Half Pail Water said...

Hi Bob, I am new to the blogging community. I chance upon your site recently. I am both sad and glad to learn abt Rick's situation.
Sad becos it happens; glad becos it happens. How many more of this cracked case can we discover in our brief life time of christian walk here on earth. I am almost immune and indifference to these reports. I am now focusing on what I want my life to be rather than worrying or fearing what I do not want to do, yet felt tempted to every waking moments. But I like to read people, if they display depth. Yours seems like one.

 
At 10:35 AM, March 27, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

HPW:

Thanks for looking in and commenting.

I wouldn't refer to Rick as a "cracked case", if I read that remark correctly, as that would be condemning myself too. You, too, come to think of it.

Rick is a dynamic preacher and God used him to build a marvelous church in a short time. He was a flawed vessel, though, and as God has said, his sin found him out. I feel sorry for him in that, and perhaps even moreso for his wife.

My sins are just as crimson, or were before Jesus painted them white, as Rick's. My only righteousness, your only righteousness, and Rick's only righteousness, is the saving and redeeming and forgiving grace of Jesus.

I'm thankful for that. Nothing else I can think of would even come close to cleaning any of us up.

Thanks for visiting. Do come back.

 
At 8:09 PM, March 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
Just ran across your blog and was very interested in the comments.

Years ago I was in a church where 3 different worship leaders fell into adultery over a 30 year period and several other staff members were dismissed over immorality issues. This was a very evangelistic church .... to the neglect of doctrine. It was your typical Pastor/board set up and was not elder led. The messages were basically topical/felt need messages.

When will we christians come to realize that "salvation" is only the start of our Christian life?

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity Hebrews 6:1

 
At 8:27 PM, March 27, 2007, Anonymous Cyndi said...

Bob Cleveland,
The world needs more Christians like you......

 
At 8:45 PM, March 27, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous: right on. One of the hangovers of my presbyterian background is that I firmly believe in Eldership in churches. We don't have them in the SBC, and we're the poorer for it.

Thanks for looking in and for your comments.

Cyndi: thank you so much. But as I posted some time ago, I brought pond scum to the party when I met Jesus, and if there's anything else here, now, well .. you know where it came from.

 
At 11:07 PM, March 27, 2007, Anonymous Simply Jenn said...

Whoa Bob Cleveland! You most definitely are a thinking man. I think that infidelity is very much a conscious choice. I have never understood how it isn't. To me, if you love your spouse then you wouldn't take the multiple steps towards adultery. Maybe I'm wrong, but if you begin to feel stirrings of desire toward another person: RUN the other way. It's not like you meet someone, your clothes fall off and you are having sex with someone who is not your spouse. I'm quite surprised at the person who said you would cheat if "given the right opportunity". I don't think that is a true statement at all. You've made me really think about faith twice in two days. I thank you for that!

 
At 7:23 AM, March 28, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Jenn: Thanks so much for looking in, and for your kind words.

I read your blog. You're an interesting lady.

One thing Jason wouldn't know is that I traveled all over .. an average of a week a month .. for 9 years. I went to meetings everywhere including NYC, New Orleans, Las Vegas et al. If I'd been predisposed to philandering, I'd have had all the "right opportunities" I could have wanted. But there is really no such thing.

Thanks for saying I made you think about faith. For an old Sunday School teacher, that's as good as it gets.

 
At 8:00 AM, March 29, 2007, Blogger Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Bob,

As for you being unfaithful, uh, I've seen your mug on the internet and your whole self at the SBC in Greensboro, and I'm assuming the question is just hypothetical, right?

:)

Love in Christ,

Jeff

 
At 8:10 AM, March 29, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Jeff:

Well .. it's not only that ... Peg and I made an agreement that if either of us ever messed up and had to leave, we'd have to take the kids. That put the kabosh on foolin' around until the kids were grown, by which time we were both too far gone for anyone to be interested. :)

On the serious side, marriage was taken very seriously when I was a little kid; my dad's brother divorced his wife and it was the shame of the family. I grew up with that thought prevalent, and there's simply never been a question.

There was also the fact that my dad loved my mom very demonstrably when I was a kid, so that was the norm for me. I've never known any other way to behave, I guess.

 
At 10:07 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Lee said...

This particular individual is well known, as a result of being a gifted speaker. Don't you think sometimes we set people up for this sort of thing by the celebrity status we accord to individuals in Christian ministry, because they have a particular, highly visible talent that is admired? How many other pastors are there out there who are involved in adulterous relationships, or other sinful activities, but because they aren't on the celebrity list, they fly under the radar screen?

It would seem to me that recovery for someone who has a high profile would also be made more difficult by the fact that so many people know about what they did.

And where are the accolades, and the celebrity status for Christians simply because they have relied on God to keep them straightened out, and focused on their ministry, whether that is as a layman or a professional minister? Those are the people we should be holding up as examples (not as celebrities).

 
At 10:04 AM, March 30, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Lee:

Good and wise thoughts. But, if it was the notoriety and the adoration that played a part in causing those sins on the high-profile pastor's part, then Adrian Rogers, Billy Graham, and a host of others would have fallen into the same sins.

I can't really speculate how much of the adoration or admiration that went his way was properly expressed. What I do know is that I will never praise anyone for anything they do .. what I tell the wonderful, inspiring preacher or singer or teacher, or example, is that I:

1) Praise God for the gifts He's given them, and:

2) Thank them for being faithful to use them.

That's all I know to do. I never praise God for what He does for me, I thank Him. I never praise people for what they do, I thank them. I praise God only for What and Who He is.

Thanks so much for commenting.

 
At 5:07 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous marie said...

Bob, I'm a little late to the party but wanted to pose some new thoughts...
"I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but CHRIST lives IN me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal 2:20
"...do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her?... But the one who joins himself with the LORD is one spirit with Him? ...Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is IN you....you are not your own."
1 Cor. 6:16,17,18,19
When will we Christians get it that this life on earth is not about us? We are aliens here. The LORD wishes to live His life in us..."I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity that the world may know that that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them even as Thou didst love Me." John 17:23
What damage is being wrought to our LORD's Name by these who refuse to run when they are faced with temptation? Where is the denial of self - the taking up the cross daily and following after Jesus so He can make us?
I'm not perfect, but I know my Redeemer lives - and His dwelling place is in me - and through His strength I can do all things.
Thank you for your committment to your wife. Don't forget, it is the LORD's strength that enables you to stand firm in your marriage.
Marie

 
At 8:57 AM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Marie: thanks for reading and commenting. Do come back, please!

Your comments and scripture references are right on.

As to my marriage, I did say the following:

"Is this desire of my own doing? Nope, I think it came from God. Like ... He said so. Do I need God's help to continue that? Of course. Will difficulties arise therein? Sure. But none of that will change my mind".

The post was about the necessity of simply doing what we CAN do. I fear many people never simply decide that. God says He'll give us peace that passes understanding and joy unspeakable, but we don't have to take it. We have to DECIDE that we will be peaceful and joyful. We have to WANT that. From appearances, lots of folks don't seem to know it, or believe it, or ask for it, or want it.

Anyway ... I appreciate your stopping in. Check in a few days. My brain is telling my fingers to type some stuff.

 
At 10:04 AM, April 04, 2007, Anonymous marie said...

I agree with you, Bob. Sorry I didn't catch the comment about your needing the LORD's help - retaining everything I read is not a strong point of mine(regretably)!
We are probably saying the same thing, just in a different way. I would say - "not my will, but Thine, O LORD" and the joy and peace come as a result.
What I hear you saying is "I have committed to my God to do as He says, and I will, with His help" and the joy and peace come as a result...
I'm glad I found your site!
The LORD bless you and your family!
Marie

 
At 10:38 AM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Marie.

There are a couple of my favorite thoughts you might not be aware of. First is a saying I heard 40 years ago:

"Before you pray about a matter, there's nothing more important you can do but pray. But AFTER you pray, there's a LOT more you can do." I've seen too many people pray for rain and then go out without their umbrella, so to speak. I try not to do that.

Second is the church is long on sayings but short on down-to-earth instructions, not to mention calling folks to accountability. We don't want to judge, etc, despite the fact that Paul told the church they WERE to judge those inside the church. Well, my biggest task as a SS teacher (young marrieds) is to get the bible down to the nuts & bolts of daily living. Otherwise it's just a Sunday exercise and something to talk about.

I really appreciate your comments.

 
At 11:12 AM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Tiger Lamb Girl said...

Hi again Bob. I've been reading through your archives. I'm really glad I found your website.

I wish you were my Sunday School teacher.

God Bless You.
Tiger Lamb Girl
('girl' isn't demeaning - I promise. there is a story behind the alias)

 
At 11:24 AM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, TLG.

No problem with the nickname ... I happen to like Tigers, Lambs, and Girls.

You have just given me an idea, which I will of course claim as my own and put to use (most likely). I'm going to put my lesson up each week as a post! I use the SBC material but I don't teach the lesson, I teach the Bible. So I tend to include all the scripture in the range of verses they select, and only use the book material as preparation helps for what I see scripture saying to the folks in my class.

And if you're ever in Pelham, Alabama ... hollar on the way in and I'll send directions and class time to you.

Please do drop in any time.

 
At 12:08 PM, April 04, 2007, Anonymous marie said...

I hope your class realizes they have a "diamond in the rough" as their teacher! And, I, for one, appreciate that you are teaching young marrieds. This world is so hard to tune out, especially when you are young - and you may be the only voice of Truth they hear during the week.
Also, you seem to have outstanding faith. You expect your prayers to be answered! We need more Christians like you!
Maybe they could hire you to replace those who think so little of our LORD as to commit adultery against Him.
I would vote for you!
Marie

 
At 12:55 PM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Marie.

I've never viewed my faith as outstanding or particularly strong. I just believe God. No "ifs, ands or buts" and no exceptions.

Period.

 
At 4:16 PM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Tiger Lamb Girl said...

Thanks Bob.

If I'm ever in Alabama, I'll definitely come visit. I'm a Southern Gal originally - but I live in England now, so I'm not terribly close anymore (originally from Texas). But I do get a little homesick for southern hospitality and familiarity - every now and then.

If you're ever in England - you and your wife are most welcome to come visit. We live in the countryside - which is amazingly beautiful in Spring and Summer. Our local church is small and very old (dates back to Doomsday and has somehow survived) and is where we worship every week.

I shall look forward to tuning in for the Sunday School lessons each week. Thank you! I'm sure God has something very good in store here.

It took me a long time to come to grips with this human experience and realise that it is God who gives true inspiration. People often disappoint (and that includes me) - and so it's on this note, that I feel I need to say that I put no one on a pedestal. But that doesn't keep me from saying 'thank you' and appreciating the demonstration of love and sharing. I thank God for this too(!).

Blessings -
TLG

 
At 10:07 PM, April 04, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi TLG.

As it happens, two of the most memorable worship services in my mind were in England. Both were in 1998-1999. The first was at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. Wow. I was REALLY impressed.

The other was in the St. Andrew Cathedral at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. The husband of a friend is the vicar there and I took the train up after a week of business in London and spent the weekend with them.

There's charm in places like that, which I haven't found in the USA. Also, surprisingly spiritual worship in the church we seem to've left the Mother country to get away from.

Oh well. Such is life. Thanks for your kind words.

 
At 9:36 PM, April 08, 2007, Blogger Nan said...

Good stuff Bob. You might enjoy my husband's blog in a similar vein.

 
At 8:30 AM, April 09, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Hi Nan, and thanks for commenting.

I did look in on LensCleanse. Nice. Also, I'm an ex-PCA church member ... we were part of the group that formed Covenant Presbyterian here in Birmingham.

 

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