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This has been a difficult week for me. In the past seven days, two of my college buddies have dropped out of the ministry. One chose to practice an immoral lifestyle, got caught, and was forced to leave his position in disgrace. The other decided that he was tired of not
having a large amount of this world's material goods, resigned his
church, and moved to another state to go into business. By the way, his
partner in this new business venture is another college friend who was
forced out of the ministry three years ago when his wife left him.
Satan is at work. The problem is right here in our fundamental camp. He has used the twin canons of hedonism and materialism, or pleasure and prosperity, to destroy not only pastors, but spouses, children, churches, and entire ministries. Reputations that took years to build were wiped out in a single decision. Incidentally, all three of these men came from unsaved family backgrounds. What kind of testimony does this leave in front of the parents to whom they have witnessed these past twenty years? "Dad, I cheated on my wife today, would you like to get saved?" "Mom, God just didn't meet my needs in the ministry, wouldn't you like Him to be your Saviour too?" "Dad, God couldn't help my marriage, but He sure can help you." Do you see the problem?
We in the ministry need to guard ourselves. However, the average church member needs to exercise similar caution. Christ warned in Mark 4:19 about falling prey to the "cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things." Multiple verses tell us to "flee fornication", and "abstain from all appearances of evil". Satan knows our weaknesses, and he knows that our compromise and sin will not only affect us, but also those to whom we have ministered. II Cor. 6:11 warns us to not be ignorant of Satan's devices, lest he get an advantage over us. For protection, Ephesians 6:11 tells us to "put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil."
We live in an evil age. Both in the pulpit and in the pew men have fallen from their walk with the Lord. The Bible reminds us that "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance". (Romans 11:29). May we guard our minds and our hearts, and covenant with God that we will be faithful to Him in all aspects of life for as long as He allows us to
Mark J. Montgomery