As I write this the beginning of Thanksgiving Week, all of what I’m sharing in these posts comes down to gratitude in all things, as the Scripture says:
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Truthfully, as I write these blogs detailing personal experiences, I see even more how grateful we are that God brought us out from under such burdens. As such, we sincerely desire to help others to avoid the same burdens in similar circumstances.
As missionaries sent out by an assembly of believers, it is extremely helpful if the pastor is behind you! If he’s not, there is an ongoing, heavy burden. It shouldn’t be that way, but SO much is tied today to the major issue that exists in modern “churchianity” (as I call it). It is the CEO, pope-type, pseudo authority (referred to as “pastoral authority”) that is handed over to a fallible human being called “the pastor.” This solo view of a man over a congregation is in direct contrast to what the Scriptures actually teach and the example of our LORD Himself, Who took a basin of water and humbly washed His disciples’ feet! In addition, all three of the “Synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record that Jesus told them “such shall not be among you” regarding “being great.” One of the Greek words He used, that Matthew records, is the verb ‘KATAKURIEUO’ (pronounced “kah tah cure ee OO oh”) and it was also used by the apostle Peter. In Matthew 20:25 it is translated “exercise dominion” and in 1 Peter 5:3 it is translated “being lords over.” In short, the modern view of a pastor as a CEO/pope-type authority is in violation of these Scriptural commands. As we once heard a church member and dear friend of ours say, “I always do what my pastor tells me to do”! Such blind obedience to a fallible human is dangerous, cultic, and ought not to be!
In 2009, after the unusual situation in UT had transpired, it wasn’t until we got back to NC that fall that we learned some of the result of the UT pastor’s threats! After church service one Sunday, Scott mentioned that he’d heard from a pastor in UT. I don’t recall my exact response at that moment, but I probably expressed a brief sentiment about the situation being resolved. Later, I was to learn just how dissatisfied he was with that answer!
As we had plans to build upon our first sea-themed conference by conducting another one the following year, we set up planning meetings with the pastor. I never will forget one of those meetings that lasted over an hour, with approximately 50 minutes involving him grilling me on the UT situation! I’d wrongly figured that my earlier answer was sufficient. Nope! It was intriguing to me, if that situation was so important, how he couldn’t even recall how that pastor had contacted him, whether he had called or emailed him regarding our “wrongdoing.” Instead of taking the side of one of ‘his’ church members (me), he clearly was on the side of the Payson pastor, a town where he’d never been and a pastor whom he’d never met! At one point, Hooks came back into his office and at one point said to me (about the UT situation), “You don’t know…,” as in, HE knew more about the situation than I did, though he’d never even met the pastor in UT. I was astounded at such hubris.
That planning meeting turned out to be the beginning of the end of our relationship with Hooks, of his own doing. Since there was no way to know what was going on in the background, as they say, actions speak louder than words. Through the succeeding years, it became clear that he was a follower of Clarence Sexton as “his pastor” and that he had come not to serve to our home church but to be served and to “lord it over God’s heritage” (1 Peter 5:3), at least in his dealing with us. (And we’ve heard similar accounts from others since we left the church.) This type behavior is expressly forbidden in God’s Word.
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: — Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1, 3)
By taking the word of someone he’d never met, far away in a state where (presumably) he’d never been, he made it very clear that he hadn’t come to be our pastor. When he first came and I would ask about making an announcement for an event such as a conference or fellowship, he would instruct me to write it out for him to read from the pulpit. Then, he would ‘forget’ to read it! This happened more than once, and it gradually became more and more difficult to do anything at our home church!
In essence, the pastor in UT had been used of Satan to instigate division among brethren, which the LORD hates!
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Yes, even a pastor can be guilty of things the LORD hates! But, given the prominent idea that they are “undershepherds” responsible only to God (and no one else), it is a rare thing for one to apologize for something! But that’s another post!
Part 4, “Nothing, Really“