A Word Concerning the West Palm Beach Forum
Note: After writing this, I am quite tired. I apologize for any errors in it as I have not proofread it. It is over 3,300 words, so I realize that this may not be read by many. But I wrote this because my heart grieves over this situation and earnestly hope that I can contribute something positive to what has continued to become perpetually more negative. Please accept this lengthy article as a sincere word from the heart of a fellow brother in Christ who is catering to neither camp in this situation but only wants to encourage all of us (including myself) to think, write, live, and love in a way that is pleasing to Jesus. Thanks.
As I sit here, attempting to gather all my thoughts from the past couple of days, I find myself writing this with a measurable degree of reluctance. Of all people, I consider myself least relevant or worthy to address the issues here, but then again that may be my vantage point. I don’t want to go into the long details of the history of these tragic events, and it may be if you are not aware of what is going on, this post should be ignored.
But, it goes without saying that what has happened at FBCWPB has garnered national attention from mainstream press as well as blogs. At the outset of the developing story, I chose to refrain from commenting because I knew that others would be addressing the issue and didn’t think my commentary would be worthwhile. However, as providence would have it, I found myself backed into the situation just from doing a little homework and researching why and how all the new people (in the hundreds) have arrived at my blog.
Soon thereafter, I received word that Johnny Hunt this past Sunday had some strong words to say about bloggers, which I mentioned here. Not sure what was the source of that provocation, I did not speculate on what Hunt was addressing from his pulpit. However, within a matter of hours, I began getting emails and comments from people with sources within
Although I am writing with this reluctance, I feel I should speak to this situation for a couple of reasons. First, I was brought into this situation as my blogposts and even comments were included in the forum discussion. Second, I have been corresponding to some members of FBCWPB and felt that it would be worthwhile to attempt to speak directly to the situation. Thirdly, while I do not know or have attended FBCWPB, I do know both Steve Flockhart and Johnny Hunt and have visited Crosspointe (then 2nd Baptist Church Millington) as well as
My Response to the
I have tried to understand what you are hoping to accomplish out of this forum, and I cannot help but think that the predominate goal is to achieve vindication from what has happened to you. I understand that you want your voices heard and the truth to come out, but it is clear that the approach you have taken has led you down to a path where such vitriolic and vehement comments have eclipsed any profitability in public discussion because what is on display is not civil discussion seeking clarity, reconciliation, and healing, but untamed tongues and unruly attitudes seeking sympathy from the world. Please hear me—the direction of your disclosure on this matter should be heavenward in prayer rather than fleshly in gossip, slander, and gloating over other people’s failures.
I also feel that is important that you take your hurt, concerns, and questions to your respective churches. This is not a matter for the Palm Beach Post. This is a matter for the church to which you belong to address. In other words, this is a family matter, one which should be privately taken up within the ecclesiological leadership who have been called to handle the affairs of God’s people, not a faceless, unaccountable forum. Secondly, from another perspective, the issues being handled in each church should not be influenced, controlled, or guided by any other church or denominational entity such as state conventions or papers. I am not saying that you shouldn’t seek advice and godly counsel outside your church, but rather I am simply saying that you should respect the God-appointed authority and work through the channels in the church were unity could be kept and truth can be upheld. Hunt,
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter -23).While it is true that there are distinguishing marks of false teachers, there also defining marks of true believers. Our Savior said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John -35). Furthermore, Scripture speaks very clearly on how we should handle our relationships with one another. For example, consider what Paul said to the church at
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians -32).And lest we forget, Jesus admonished us after the Lord’s Prayer concerning forgiveness when He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness is not an option for a believer. It is a command, and if we do not forgive those who have sinned against or wrongfully us, then we haven’t been near the cross. The vengeance which wants to be ours in the flesh does not belong to us but to the Lord who judges justly. Paul makes it clear that we should
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans -21).
As Christians we are what we are by the grace of God. Whatever wrong in me is due to my sin and whatever is praiseworthy is wholly of God’s grace. Correspondingly, I have learned that we must view each other by the grace of God and what that grace will accomplish in their lives as well as ours. If we attempt to enforce our law upon others, we will soon find ourselves incapable of living up to our own expectations of others and resort to blatant hypocrisy detrimental to the cause of Christ. If our brothers and sisters are in Christ, by all means, let us treat them as such, especially when our flesh and world tempts us to do otherwise. Not only should we view each other by the grace of God, live in light of God’s sovereignty and divine providence, have a heart of forgiveness, and love one another with the love of Christ, but we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in everyday life. As I read the many comments, I struggled to find any evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Please hear me out on this. I am not trying to be your “fruit inspector” but a watching world is reading and seeing what is taking place, so please don’t forget the potential worldwide audience before you. I have learned this in my own writing as I reflect back on some statements which I dishonored Jesus and mistreated a fellow brother in Christ. If we are not bearing fruit from abiding in Christ, then we need to evaluate whether or not our manner of life is worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians ).
Finally, let me close with some words of exhortation. I hope that they are met with receptive hearts as I desire to be sensitive to your situation. Remember that our Lord said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). I don’t know about you, but I am a debtor of mercy, and having received such, what else am I to give except the same mercy to which I have received? Also, take a good look at your words, for by them you will be judged on the day of judgment (Matthew -37). During this time, consider how God could use this situation to grow you in grace and furnish you with greater faith as you trust in Him. Treasure the promises of God that He will build His church (Matthew ) and that He is with you always (Matthew 28:20), even in moments like these. Don’t be in bondage to bitterness but find freedom in forgiveness. Meditate on James 1 and pray that God would give you wisdom as you seek to “count it all joy” when you undergo such times of adversity. When you write and comment, two questions to ask yourself: One, “Does this glorify God?” and two, “Will this edify the Church?” If you cannot answer those questions affirmatively, then it could be that you have another agenda other than God, His glory, His truth, and His Church. Go to your church and pray, love, serve, repent, and reconcile. Encourage on another, exhort one another, minister to one another, and comfort one another. Above all, point
I realize that I am not really qualified to speak to this situation, but I have been put in a situation where people from
To all of you who have taken the time to read all of this, first, thank you. It was a long post. Second, please pray for Crosspointe and First Baptist