I am very particular of the people I listen to, the books I read and where I send my tithe. I believe this stems from growing up and being very involved in a church as a child, a church my parents (through discernment) fortunately made the decision to leave prior to learning the pastor was living a lie. This lie ultimately hurt thousands and caused many to turn from the Lord.
That experience as a young girl taught me to be very discerning when it comes to those who preach the gospel. The majority of pastors I listen to, or read books they author, have long since gone home to Heaven and I wouldn’t even need a full hand to count the number of today’s pastors I would say I “follow”.
Yesterday, my sister forwarded me an email from the church I have called home for over a decade. This church has pushed my faith deeper, has forced me into the Word to find answers and to rely on the Lord for everything. The Pastor’s wisdom and insight has, over the many years of listening to him, inspired me to know the Lord more intimately and to stand on the Word regardless of what I see or feel. Although I no longer live in the state where this church resides, I still tithe there and listen to the services as often as I can. Whenever I travel back to the state, I make sure to book a returning ticket late enough to assure my attendance on Sunday morning service.
So, when I opened my messages and saw the below email, to say I was shocked, disheartened, confused or troubled, would be an understatement…I was, and still am, totally and completely heartbroken.
Through different life experiences, I have witnessed the effect of abuse on women and children, seen the terror in a child’s eyes after being attacked, talked with the addicted and forlorn, attempted to council the depressed, prayed for the hurting and walked through jails filled with the lost.
To tell someone they are not allowed into the House of God if they don’t wear a mask or that they may be turned away if they have a fever is not guidance from the Lord, but rather guidance from the world.
The thought that someone who may be suicidal could potentially be told to leave if their temperature is too high, or someone who is tormented with claustrophobia is not allowed to worship if they don’t cover their mouths, or someone who struggles with addiction and depression and desires prayer yet cannot approach the pastor after service, is so overwhelmingly sad to me tears spring to my eyes at the very thought of it. And, the fact that this demand is coming from a church I trusted, a church I looked to in times of difficulty and chaos in my life, just simply sucks.
I take the Word literally. By this I mean every promise given in the Word is a promise to me, every battle won is an image of battles I can win, and every miracle performed is a miracle I too, with doubtless faith in time of need, can one day achieve. So, when I pray Psalm 91 over my home, I believe I am protected because it says, “there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (10).
A church is the dwelling place of God and it is a Pastor’s duty, their calling, to “lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18), but if the Pastor’s refuse to touch the sick, how can they ever improve?
Jesus approached the leprous, He surrounded himself with the sick and needy, He never turned anyone away who needed help, not even once, regardless of the sickness that plagued them or the infectious disease that covered their bodies.
We, as a body, have lost our heart for the hurting, our need to be there in times of trouble and difficulty. We have become wrapped up in our 501(c)(3) status and have repeatedly, over time, looked to government over God. We have forgotten the power that comes with the Holy Spirit and the promises we were handed freely if we only believe.
I am hurt by how the church as a whole has reacted during this time. Suicide hotline phone calls have increased 600%, liquor sales gone up 300-600%, domestic violence and child abuse at an all-time high…if there was ever a time for the church to “be there” for their people, without restrictions and limitations, it is now.
This has been a “wake-up” experience for me. Those I thought would lead the charge have fallen in line with the masses and those I looked to for wisdom remain silent.
But, hope is not lost. There are those, though few and far between, who refuse to bend on their beliefs and who stand on the Word without budging. Like the two of the twelve spies sent into the promised land, there are some willing to take the heat in order to stand on the Word of God and refuse to allow fear, turmoil or confusion into the House given to them by the Lord.
I am thankful for those men and women and will continue to pray for their strength, wisdom and boldness; Lord knows we need it!