(And addendum to this post has been added since the original. For more click HERE.)
I am so bummed tonight to have heard the news about Pastor Gary Lamb of Revolution Church in Georgia. I do not know Gary personally, only through Facebook, Twitter and his blog. I would never be one to put more burdens on a man already so broken, but I cannot get some thoughts off my mind tonight and my blog is one way I express myself. Since he addressed this in a very public way through his own blog (Read the account HERE), I thought I would share some of the things racing through my head. They may be good for all of us to consider.
- I started reading Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God” today before I heard this news. On the first page of Manning’s writing he quotes Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me”. The book is called “A love story for the brokenhearted”. I think Gary needs this book. I do too!
- Gary, his family and his church, along with the other woman and her family, need our prayers at this time. Satan is smiling on this one, but Satan is a liar and a loser. God can and will have the final word. Let us pray He has His way in this situation for all parties concerned.
- Whenever a pastor falls, those outside the church have another excuse to push away from truth. Some of this comes from the way the church treats its own. Now is not the time for judgment, now is the time for grace to abound.
- People are going to begin dismissing everything Gary has said or will say because of this failure. Please don’t be one of those. His failure does not diminish any truth he spoke prior to today. If anything it makes the truth he spoke even more real. The fact is that Gary is not a perfect man. We knew that before we knew the news of the day. If God used him to make a difference in your life or others, be thankful God uses broken people, like you and me.
- The failure of Gary did not begin with an affair with his assistant. Somewhere, sometime, Gary let his guard down. We must all work harder to make sure the proper boundaries are in our life. I have too many pastor friends who see nothing wrong with meeting with female staff members alone. You must NEVER, EVER, EVER do this. NEVER! Please pastors and other leaders, build accountability and boundaries into your life now, before it is too late. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
- Many pastors I know need marriage counseling, but they are too proud or too afraid of what their church would think to get it. I hope this news encourages some to take that bold step.
I make this offer to pastors, I am a pastor and a former degreed Christian counselor, if I can help you talk through issues like this, if you are on a limb and need a confidential, non-judgmental friend, feel free to email me at [email protected]
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On judgment day I don’t believe that God will be asking me what my opinions are on anyone’s choices. Ultimately, each one of us will answer for our own choices on that day … from the big ones to the small ones … each and every step of our walk.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to continue to pray for Gary, his family and C3, as I do for any Christian going through and/or coming out of a tough time..
If you’re not sure what to think or do, then remember these words, Matthew 22:37-39, “Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself…”
No matter where you stand on the issue there are thousands in the Canton area that will die and go to hell. If Gary can only reach two or three – that’s good. If he reaches and disciples thousands – that amazing. Either way, whether you agree with Gary or not – people will be saved. And when it’s all said and done, time will tell…
But doesn’t all sin separate us from God? Didn’t Jesus die on the cross for all of our sins? Aren’t we really defeating the purpose of sharing our Lord and Savior when we’re beating someone over the head with our bitterness and hatred and using the bible as the weapon of choice to do it?
The bottom line here (for me anyway) is that Gary Lamb is still my brother in Christ. My thoughts and opinions on his choice to start another church are just that …my thoughts and my opinions.
Finally, let me take another approach…
I think what we say on Twitter or blog sites won’t matter. I also think that when it’s all said and done, if we don’t agree with Gary we don’t have to go to the church he leads.
And no matter what, it’s a good thing to preach God’s word no matter the circumstances – God’s word will never return void. So why should Gary (or anybody) wait until society or church leaders believe he has repented enough?
How many will die and go to hell that could have heard while Gary waits around? We don’t have the luxury of the time needed to redeem ourselves in the eyes of man
How many lost souls can God reach through Gary in the next 2-5 years that “the church boards” tell you you wait to get back into planting churches?
And are those critics willing to go out on the streets of Canton and preach God’s word?
By the way, here’s an excerpt from Perry Noble’s blog we would all do well to read and remember:
“And pastors…church leaders…please don’t get mad at Gary about this but rather allow this tragedy to cause you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “is there anything going on in my private life that, if it became public, would disqualify me from ministry?” Things like this should not cause us to force others away from the cross…but rather they should cause us to hold on to it tighter than we ever have!”
I’m can’t say what the right timetable is for Gary to return to ministry. He has to figure that out.
And he has…
Gary has looked at himself in the mirror and asked himself the difficult questions: “Are you back where you need to be to do the job? Are you where you should be emotionally, mentally, spiritually? Are you back in the Word, in prayer?”
Gary’s answer is “yes!”
Gary has looked at himself and he believes he is ready to allow God to use him again.
Gary has experienced God’s forgiveness and grace and he feels he has healed enough to become an amazing leader. In the end, only he can determine that.
Third, what about the present? Does Gary have the option to be a leader in the church again? Some would say “no!” The buzzwords people like to use when it comes pastors who have moral failures are “disqualified from being a pastor,” “doesn’t meet the requirements of Timothy and Titus,” “doesn’t have his family under control,” etc., etc. Those are all good intentioned condemnations but the TIMING of their theology is wrong.
While there are definitely biblical requirements and guidelines for leadership it is also important to note that they are given in the present tense. There is nothing that says you can’t be in leadership because you’ve DONE these things – it says you can’t be in leadership if are DOING these things.
Study the leaders of the early church. They had screwed up, messed up histories. But when their histories became HIS-stories, they experienced forgiveness, grace and healing and became amazing leaders. Some took years for that process, some like David and Peter were thrust right back into the game.
Second, we should ALL remember that Gary’s sins do not negate the Spirit’s work that was done. Whether the leadership at Revolution wishes to admit it or not, God used Gary to build a great church. A large part of the reason that the current pastor at Revolution stepped into a good paying, great opportunity is because Gary was available for God to use. No one can ever take that truth away. The current leadership at Revolution would do well to remember that.
I will not sit here and condemn Gary Lamb or say that the years he spent in ministry mean nothing anymore because he sinned and then made a choice (divorce) that some don’t agree with. Regardless of Gary’s choices and sins, I am not without sin so I am in no position to cast the first stone. That’s what can be said of all of us. None of us, no not one, is without some sort of sin in our lives. Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror before we tweet????
I especially like "do not negate the Spirit's work that was done."
First, let’s deal with the past. It is common knowledge that Gary sinned. He has admitted that – to God and everybody else. That being the case, I don’t believe that any of us should turn our backs on Gary Lamb (or any person) because to me, that goes against the very grain of Jesus telling us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
Way too frequently I see Christians turning on those who have a spotlight turned on the sin in their lives. It’s almost as if it makes us feel better about our own “little sins” if we see someone who has a sin that we perceive as being “worse” than our own.
There are many opinions, blogs and tweets about Gary Lamb and C3 floating out there on the web. Everyone seems to have something to say about Gary’s return to leadership in a new church. That being the case, I thought I should enter the fray.
Sorry I'm just now getting your comment. I was in Sierra Leone when you left it. Thanks. I like your thoughts on this.
T.J. Well put. There’s an apparent lack of respect. Yes, I fear that many have not been truly regenerated.
Gary “Wolf” might be a more appropriate name.
This is the reason the church in America is dying. Oh our churches are growing HUGE….but truth is dying, the WORD is dying in the hearts of men…we hear it but we don’t LIVE IT….the majority of Christians are EXACTLY like the world. WHY plant churches? WHY? to make DISCIPLES? Well most of us are not walking the narrow road, giving up all to follow Jesus..it’s like a big social party club….where baptisms become BBQ’s and marriages end in divorce like more than half of all American’s. Does anyone ever fear that most people in these “churches” are not even saved? Do not walk in a personal relationship with the Lord? Where is holiness and faithfulness?
Just like many had alluded to, Gary Lamb is such a victim in all of this… I’m really going to be praying for him in this tough, dark time of his life.
Yep people seem to feel pastor’s are not human..news flash ..they are people. Being that they have weaknesses just as we all do..Sadly some give into it..the real problem is people fail too see all the good works these pastor’s give up to that point and all the..Lost souls they have brought to christ..of course after he recieves the same forgiveness that we have been granted the people finish satans work by condemning him till he never will be able to continue the work God has given to him..
Thanks, Ron. I just sent all my subscribers over to your post. The last message in my recent email series on A Husband’s Love was written as a preventative to just such an episode (before I actually heard about this one). It’s available at: http://www.advancedministry.com/sites/index.cfm?i=6911&mid=4
I recently interviewed a man who fell in a very public way. We all know who he is:
I hope the church has learned something from the way Ted Haggard was treated after his fall and avoids those same mistakes with Gary Lamb.
@donnypauling’s last blog post..Breakthrough With Rod Parsley
This whole story breaks my heart. As the wife of a church plant pastor, I sometimes think that a big bullseye is painted on him. Satan looks for these opportunities to attack spiritual warriors. My heart goes out to his family and I know that many people will be lifting them up in prayer during this emotionally difficult time.
Our church had to go thru something like this with our worship leader and we are still in the process of restoration for him and his wife. Christians, raise your voice in prayer for all those who lead in your churches. They need them.
I attend Revolution and I appreciate what you said about not dismissing what Gary say’s or said due to this situation. I’ve been attending Revolution for over 2 years and I have learned more about living my life as a Christian man than anyone has ever taught me before in church. Gary’s teaching of the word have completely empowered me to speak openly about my beliefs without hesitation. Because of what he taught me I was able to share my faith with several people who now attend Revolution and have been saved and baptized. Those people now have share the message and have their own stories of friends coming to Revolution and also finding Christ. One of the neat things is that most of these people also have become volunteers and make Revolution happy every Sunday (Since we are portable it is a big job) Gary’s recent actions don’t change or diminish in any way what I (and hundreds/thousdands of others) have learned about living our lives as a believer. Thanks for your post!
I share similar thoughts on this subject! Check them out at http://trousey.wordpress.com/
T. Rousey’s last blog post..A Blog Post For Gary Lamb…
Great words of wisdom in this post. I might add that Pastor Lamb fell well before this incident. The fall, as he indicated in his letter, was when he made the church about him which happened long ago. Pride will kill leadership and Mr. Lamb had a lot of that for some time. It is sad that those over him did not see this sooner, that is why accountability is so important. David a man after God’s own heart fell so we all should be aware. The great thing is in the mist of consequences is mercy and grace which covers our sin and thankfully protects us from what we deserve. Mr. Lamb seemed to be very repentant and God does great things with a repentant heart.
Midge, there are some couple’s counseling programs like this on smaller scales that I have heard of before. Someone on our staff just went to one recently. I love the idea and think something could be done to make them more accessible and affordable to all pastors. The once I have heard of are fairly expensive.
Maybe there should be some sort of ministry that has seminars for pastor couples that offers counseling to whole groups, kind of like a big Catalyst just for ministry couples. That way everyone would be in it together, get yearly “counseling”, accountability and it wouldn’t single out anyone. It would though, give all the couples a time to deal with issues of the year and start again anew…
Preston, certainly the more public the person the more public the fall.
Oh gosh, that’s so sad! I’ll be praying for all the families affected by this and for the church. We had this happen to our church when I was in high school and it was just devastating for all parties involved. Our pastor’s daughter was my best friend, and seeing the fallout from that angle was just heartbreaking.
Renee Garcia’s last blog post..Monday Moment for Down Syndrome – Down Syndrome in the News
Fianlly someone saying something about the other family and asking for prayer for them. There are 2 families rocked by this and it’s refreshing to see someone acknowledge that and not just Gary’s family.
Excellent thoughts Ron. I went through a similar situation less than a year ago, and what God did through the local church my wife and I serve in along with counseling was amazing. Thankful for those who choose to show grace.
Some good thoughts mate.
Mark E’s last blog post..Gary Lamb, well known Church Planter blows it
Great words for all of us. Like you I don’t know Gary on a persoanl basis but my heart is heavy for him tonight.