I remember well, like it was just yesterday, receiving the news that a Christian leader, Jimmy Swaggart, had fallen.
The signs he was in trouble had been visible long before the public revelation. Swaggart’s confession came only eleven months after the fall of Christian leaders Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
My pastoral staff and I sat in a circle discussing the tragic events. “Don’t even let me get away with parking in a handicap zone,” was my response. “We must hold each other accountable, and live with integrity and purity.”
Years have passed since that day in Lacey, Washington.
The world has witnessed the downfall of several prominent Gospel preachers. Each one pulls another piece of trust and integrity from the heart of the watching public. My heart has broken at the press releases regarding David (formerly Paul) Yonggi Cho and Dr. Bill Gothard.
Men with decades of rich ministry touched thousands upon thousands of lives. Now in the waning years of their ministry when they should be rejoicing in the glow of “a life well-lived” and the joy of a race nearly run, they are suffering the crushing blow of public disgrace.
I reflect on King David’s song of lament for King Saul. The king’s reign had an auspicious beginning but ended with the tragedy of a failed suicide and undignified death. David, who honored the king all of his days, grieved for the fallen leader of Israel.
“The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!”(2 Samuel 1:19 NKJV)
My heart shouts these words with great sadness and fear and trembling over these two “lions for God.” We must resolve to finish strong. We cannot afford to see our valiant ones falling.
Now of all times, in this season of church history; we are living in the final hours and the greatest opportunity of our generation. We must finish strong!
The stories of these fallen warriors carry a similar pattern.
Too powerful to be accountable.
Compromised standards from their own teaching, often times standards that were over emphasized.
Too popular to be firmly confronted by their staff and board members.
Failure to authentically repent and to be cleansed from secret sins.
Fellow leaders, it is time to lift your eyes and to see the prize of a life lived well and a ministry fully completed. Look beyond the fog of the daily sacrifice and battle fatigue. The cost is great and the earthly reward seems little. Resentment and envy can grow almost unnoticed. The temptation is strong to “grab your share!” The price is too high; the cost of greed, ambition and lust is too steep.
Our passionate aim must be, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV).
Can you hear the cheers of the crowd?
It is the “great cloud of witnesses.” The ones “of whom the world is not worthy.”
They are shouting and urging you forward.
Can you see? Look forward. See that shadow? It is Jesus, “the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” He’s at the finish line waiting. His reward is in His hand. He is looking for you! That is the true prize. It is worth it all. Endure to the end. Finish Strong!
I am anticipating the Master’s words, “Well done my good and faith servant.”
Discovering True Identity: A Believer’s Position in Christ (Freedom Series) (Volume 1)Agape: Unveiling the Mask of Darkness, Setting the Captives Free (Freedom Series) (Volume 2)Charis: The Power of Grace (The Freedom Series Book 3)Discovering Jesus: A Discipleship Manual (Discipleship Series) (Volume 1)The Joy of Becoming Like Jesus: A Discipleship Manual – Discipleship 101 (Discipleship Series) (Volume 2)Becoming Ambassadors for Christ: A Discipleship Manual – Discipleship 102 (Discipleship Series) (Volume 3)