Sunday, September 2, 2007
My most beloved Pastor, Stanly Riche, the man that my husband and I were tutored under, taught Christianity 101 and so much more from, died of lung cancer.
My husband was one of the 6 "Young Minister's" at our church that he had wanted to carry him to his final resting spot should the end come. And it did. After a year of prayer meetings and total faith in God and His divine will for Br. Riche and all of our lives....God blessed "B.R." as we called him lovingly at times......with the "Ultimate Healing," he went to heaven. Home to be with Jesus, the one who he had loved and had served and taught us all about.
We were very mixed about this but accepted it as "God's plan."
This loss of such a fabulous man was extremely devastating to many.
In fact our church went through a most terrible time after his death. I won't totally "go there" because it was painful, but it was some of the worst "church stuff" I have ever seen and encountered in my entire life. Many bad things happened, many people hurt each other in various ways and many BAD "spirits" and I mean spirits, came into our church as a result of this deep injury on the body. There always has to be an open "doorway" those things have to come in by and they WERE allowed in during this time.
Sheep really don't know what to do without their loving Shepherd and this man was a true Shepherd......he was always beating the wolves away from the door of our hearts. After his death....a "wolf" tried to take over the church from within....ultimately he failed but triumphed in destroying many in the church and without as he had a reputation for already but ......our Pastor believed in "Restoration" and before Pastor Riche became so ill.....he had been in the process of "Restoring" this fallen younger Pastor from another church.
Pastor Riche told us at a prayer meeting one night that this man and his family had come to our church for "help"...that they needed "healing and restoration" and we all agreed.....by the raising of our hands that we would accept him and them into our loving fellowship to help them and love them and restore them. Things went well for a while....then Bro. Riche became ill and this man took on more roles of responsibility in the church. He never really was able to finish his "restoration" process and to this day.....our old church, and our old town have never been the same.
Once Pastor Riche passed away..... a huge power struggle ensued and it was amazing to see how our church began to divide over men and over issues arising from this new man who wanted to take over the position of our beloved Pastor. Our church was very large for "back in the day".....we had about 700 people on a SUNDAY night. That was amazing for then. It was a very family like church.....and now suddenly it was divided. Over two men. One who was dead and now one who was alive and Don and I were under pressure to choose a side.
We were told by many....."you can't ride the fence on this issue." Either.....we could be loyal to Br. Riche,and his teachings and the way he had wanted the church to go.....or accept this man who had all of a sudden after Pastor Riche's death tried to elevate himself into that vacated position. It was understood that he was never to become the "Senior Pastor" of the church until he was restored.
Yet it never fully was able to happen because our Pastor couldn't work with him the way he needed to because he was fighting for his own life. So this man with all his " fallen background" and his "new" ideals and very fancy "Preacher clothes".....slipped into the pulpit while the Pastor was home and sick. This was subtle at first then went full scale. All under the guise of....."we need him to help fill the pulpit until Pastor Riche can get better."
There was alot of political "posturing" taking place through out all that time that we didn't know about. Alot of secret meetings and "dinners" with board members and leadership that we along with many others had no clue was happening. Plus we were young and innocent and had not been exposed to church politics up to this point.
Now....it had come down to this...."would we allow him to come in and take over Br. Riche's pulpit and our church and change things we were all acumstomed to in the church even though he had never been fully restored?" It was not an easy thing to deal with. Because we wanted to exhibit "forgiveness" as we had said we would in that initial prayer meeting.....yet....due to the circumstances...the process of his healing wasn't finished and most of us knew it. There hadn't even been time for him and his family to heal. They were damaged.
We as a church so were not used to this type of behavior in a Pastor anyway so we were trying to accept this man and his flamboyancy in the first place. He was a good preacher.....but because Pastor Riche and his wife were NOT "materialistic" people nor did he or she act or dress overly fancy. It hindered many people. Not that the Riche's didn't dress nicely but they were not flashy and didn't draw attention to their clothing or their appearances at all.
In fact.....Pastor Riche and his wife lived very modestly in the church apartment that was across the street from the church and they drove a very modest car. In fact.......when he bought it...he asked the Church "PERMISSION" so as to "not offend anyone" or cause them to stumble. He had driving a "Nova" and was having problems with it and he also had an artificial leg and needed a different type car more leg space to help him get in a out of.
So they bought an "Impala."
I hope you see where I am going.
We had been new Christians and in our new "Full Gospel" church for nearly 3 years when Pastor Riche was diagnosed. He never took chemotherapy or any type of treatments. HE believed the Lord could heal him. Plus the Dr.'s said it wouldn't have really mattered much and he decided to let his faith help him through that time and we all believed for his healing.
This man so impacted our lives that we attribute most of who we are and what we've learned to him.....we are thankful to him even now for had it not been for all the strong teachings and wonderful things he taught us and instilled into us.....I don't know how we would be able to "stand" seeing and hearing and living through all we have in the past years in "Christendom." Not counting all the things yet to come. WE are so thankful for the "good foundations" he laid in our lives.
All I can say is......"Please God give us STRENGTH and GRACE and more men and women of God like Pastor Riche!!!!" I've had the "best" of some of the best when it comes to Pastors.
I have unlike many out there in the church world had a "GODLY and good example" of a man and woman of God in the pulpit. I know that in today's day and age......things have changed and people rate the "Man of God" on "how much they possess, or how they dress and how many times they travel and how many cars and homes they have"...I my friends don't need to see all that to judge how they represent God. I just need to see how they live their lives according to the words that come out of their mouths. I want to see them back up.....say.....the book of Acts......or the book of Hebrews. How do their lives compare to Apostle Paul's?
Do they have to be perfect. No way. Was Paul's life perfect. He himself said it was.
At least Paul was honest and the SAD thing is.......no one in the body of Christ says anything. No one stops the madness. We don't want to "be negative" or "Touch God's anointed"......first ask yourself. ARE THEY GOD'S ANOINTED? That will help you in this.
Many people are communicators......or speakers......or whatever. But they ARE not anointed. There is a big difference.
I feel like....the kid in the Hans Christian Anderson story......
"The Emperors New Clothes".....I always have.
People see the Emperor and he's buck naked and actually he's been deceived into thinking that he has on the "most fabulous set of clothes that's ever been made"...the people around him.....his leaders.....don't say anything....don't want to "expose" him or be negative. His country men don't want to say anything...but then some little kid in the crowd says......"He's not got any clothes on!!!"
This example goes far deeper than not having clothes on. Being "naked" in biblical reference has always meant to be "Spiritually blind or naked" so this story is just for you to get an understanding of what I am trying to say. No one wants to accept the fact that maybe we are naked???
It's understandable because we may become an outcast as a result of saying it.
I said all that to say this..."restoration" is biblical and Godly and it's needed. Thank GOD for restoration. I want it in my life. I've had it in my life. I want it for others. But do those that NEED it want it? Do they even recognize that they are naked and need restored??
In light of the recent "church world news".....there were two such articles ( and all these dramas were on the news and on the Internet already for the past week so it's old news by now)in yesterday's Baton Rouge newspaper about MAJOR ministries that are going through ....let's call it "trauma." Because they are bleeding out.
Now.....are they stopping to get help? Has anyone said...."Bro.....Sister.....you need to STEP DOWN from what your doing and get some restoration and some healing in your life before you proceed with your ministry"......nope. These people act as if nothing is going on and it's......"Church as usual."
Give me a break. This is UNBIBLICAL and the bible says to "mark" these people and we don't do we? They are causing division in the body by their sinful lifestyles.
What has happened to us? We want to be politically correct???? Is that it? Then let me ask you....."do we please MAN or God." You choose. Because He already has told us what to do.
I remember when people "fell" several years back...and the Christian bookstores "shunned" them and took their CD's off the shelves and these people couldn't get a "gig" anywhere and some of them were "Dove award" winners. Their ministries and singing careers were for all parts, ruined. You don't hear of them and rarely see them today. Yet, if that had happened now.....they could just apparently go on and be famous and keep singing, preaching, whatever and have no consequences.
Now they can goof up.....and not REPENT....see that is the key right there.....there is NO REPENTANCE...and they just go on and start a new ministry or keep on preaching or whatever they do. Remember though, that isn't how it works in God's economy. Every decision affects us...and others..for good or bad. When you are in a Ministry position of any sort....it's worse. People are watching. People want to see how you are going to react and how the church world is going to react and how GOD is going to react.
Here's the deal......it's not all bad. It's painful but it can be fixed when it's done properly. That doesn't mean their lives will be the same because many will not.
Their ministries may fail but more than that........their souls can be repaired.
Just look at the life of David in the bible if you want an example. He went through some horrible because of his sin......but he had his heart right in the end.
It's all about restoration. We have got to do it and have it. But there has to be repentance before restoration can happen. Otherwise.....there is nothing to restore.
Otherwise.....their lives and ministries will account to nothing any more. They will be powerless. But they don't think so, they don't see it because they are blinded by their own self made fame and the need to hang on to what they have and possesses.
Repentance according to Mr. Webster means this:
1 : to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life
2 a : to feel regret or contrition b : to change one's mind
1 : to cause to feel regret or contrition
2 : to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for
Or and it's a VERB so that means "action" correct?
Unfortunately.....some of these people don't think they've done anything wrong so that is an issue.
Some of these people have done these "mistakes" over and over........like several times....like it's documented. Did someone "restore" them after the first incident?"
See what a tangled web we weave?
When things are not biblically addressed and surgery done in a biblical way.....then you leave the door open for the devil and believe me...he will take that door and then you deal with this issue over and over and over AND hundreds of people will be affected and INFECTED.
It's wrong and the sad thing is we KNOW IT'S wrong.
The Emperor is naked and we allow it because we are scared.
We don't want to be "too hard."
"We don't want to "offend" anyone." I've head THAT exact line said in churches by "leaders."
PLEASE, PLEASE....someone get some guts and clean this wound out or else the sickness will spread and spread. That is why we are in the mess we are in now.
Churches are full of sick people and the people can't get any healing.....they get sweetened up messages of encouragement when what they needed was a radical "amputation" of something in their bodies to cut out root sin issues.
God forbid. We don't want to offend someone....because maybe that person won't ever come back and they are well known here in town and own a successful business and we have to pay for all this stuff you know all these ministries and all this staff.
We need to "keep" the people coming. I've HEARD it folks, I know people that have heard it. Don't think it's not being thought of and said behind closed door church meetings because it is.
So we compromise. I've seen it done for years. Well intentioned men and women of God who won't do surgery on their church bodies due to fear and compromise. They all started out right and swore they would never compromise the world of God or let God down. Now they reason it all away.
It's all over the nation too.
I have ministry friends all over the country and they too have fallen "victim" to the "knife" that "cuts" out staff members that speak against these Pastors soft messages and flamboyant lifestyles. These people on ministry/church staffs try to hang on as long as they can because at one point they believed in the Pastor and the church and what it was doing and then something changed. The church took a "new" direction.
Finally true to their own convictions these staff members, many of which are Pastor's themselves, either have to leave these churches or they get fired because they "aren't supporting the vision of the house" or the "Pastors vision."
I've heard it all and my husband and I have wept with some of these people and wept because we know the Pastor's that are changing and putting themselves, their families, their ministers and staffs and churches in harms way and don't see this happening in their lives. Or don't care.
I say I would rather eat pork and beans with men and women with backbones and Godly convictions, than to eat steak with these wimpy leaders and Pastors who "appear" to have it all. They are weak and lame and they WILL STAND before God as to how they have cared for their church and their sheep.
How the mighty have fallen and will continue to do so. Why is this?
BECAUSE GOD CARES about the "worker" not the "work." He doesn't need your big buildings and all your land and your programs. He really can get it done in a bamboo hut. He really does have people that haven't bowed their knees to foolishness all over the world hidden away somewhere preparing for the opportunity to go and serve Him in some foreign land or even here in America.
Don't fool yourselves into thinking we have to have all this STUFF and do all this stuff. Don't let anyone else fool you into it either.
The gospel has been preached for years overseas without the help of our great modern day "cathedrals," cutting edge media and fabulous clothes for years. Men like Reinhardt Bonnke are still packing them in in Africa with a "no thrills" platform. There are no "smoke and mirrors" or fancy platforms with him....and he's a hard hitter. People are still responding to his messages and he's STILL humble about it.
But we here in America are very busy having celebrities like Donald Trump and others on our platforms and our Christian talk shows and ALLOWING ungodly people like them teach the church how to get "rich."
Give me a break. That's really helped us now hasn't it?? Might want to check out their lives.....just because you own Trump towers or live in them doesn't make you successful.
Ask yourself "What is success in Gods eyes??" If you can hear from Him.....He will tell you. Or you could read it in His word. That is still in print too for that matter.
Why doesn't anyone put some "Prophets" on stage in our churches.
Bring in David Wilkerson.
He's my favorite preacher in the entire world....he never allows anyone to call him a prophet but he is one. Humble man. He's getting old and that makes me sad because there aren't many left on the planet like him.
Pastor's don't have him into their churches because that would be way to scary I guess because he might expose something in our lives like...say...oh right sin???
Oh by the way......the last time David Wilkerson was in this town.....he did in fact give a warning to some one and guess what??? It came to pass. I lived here when it happened and it can be validated.
You see this is why I love Missionaries and Missions work so much......they are (usually) so opposite of how the Pastor's and whoever else live in the church world It's bare basics and bare necessities with missionaries. They MUST depend on God oh and the few "small crumbs" that churches throw to them to work with and on and compared to how these Pastors live and how fat their churches incomes are...it is mere crumbs. Especially when a building program takes place. I've seen it and heard this a million times from missionaries and from church leaders/Pastors......when a church goes into a building program.....churches ALWAYS "cut" missions. They need that money to do "missions" right here where we are at.
We could give so much more for the gospel around the world if we could cut out some of the FAT in the churches.
Please stop the games and I mean games we don't have to do all this and everyone knows it.
Scale back on your employees. ENOUGH said on that.
How about cutting out some of their upscale cell phones and techy things that Leaders and staff members have..I mean IF and only IF they are needed for the benifit of the "church" and for getting a perticular job done.....and not for the entertainment of the person using them....fine then use them but if it's a trendy thing...then stop the nonsense at church people's expense...
PLEASE toss out the "pink" or "gold" or whatever color is hot at the moment paper goods for parties and opt for "plain ol' white" at a cheaper price..look, I like nice floral patterns on plates too when I host a party.......but who's paying for them?? If I pay for my own stuff that's one thing....IF we are ALL paying for the church things....then let's stay low budget okay, that is unless you get some kind of "remarkable bargan."
Many of us who do TITHE want our TITHES and OFFERINGS put to better use.
OR what about fancy snacks and drinks and furnishings in our "Pastoral lounges" or other places where the staff and leaders can go hang in before and after services. They do exist.
My husband and I were "guests" of some Pastor's we know in another state once and we got to go to their "Pastoral lounge" one Sunday and that thing was FABULOUS.....
I mean FIRST CLASS.......every kind of flavor of coffee and sugars and creamers you would ever want.
There were professional machines of all sorts for juices and teas or whatever. IT was exactly like being in an upscale coffee house, REALLY!!! Leather furniture....beautiful cherry wood tables and wonderful cabinets and top notch appliances it was a huge area and decorated wonderfully.
There were fresh Danish and fruit and you name it......it was GORGEOUS and there was even a security guard at the door so as not to allow any of the "church people" in to disrupt us before the service. We were like Royalty. I wondered if God was bothered by all that?
Especially when a great amount of the world is starving.
But this happens every week in churches all over the world. Crazy huh?? What did Pastor's ever do before "Pastoral lounges???" I guess they had to use their offices. I don't know??? But that's what my husband had to do. I wonder what they do in the jungle churches....God forbid.
What about this ideal....there are way too many printed pamphlets and programs on this or that handed out any given Sunday or whenever your church events are. All this stuff that we "think" we have to have to hand out to people that is crazy. I usually just pitch it anyway after I read it if I do. I have way too much stuff to keep track of.
Keep it simple folks.....one or two things sure...tons of stuff and throughout the month....it just piles up. I bet they can't even keep track of it all.
Here's a concept...."KEEP it GREEN" that's trendy huh??? GIVE the information on the overheads or let kids write it on their hands or arms with washable pens in Children's Church (be creative okay) and give the $$$$$ instead for some village to have clean water.
This is so wrong of the church world.
All this wasted stuff...stuff that outdates itself in 5 minutes but we "HAVE TO HAVE IT" don't we? We want to "fit in" be on the "cutting edge"....fit in "Where?? and with "Whom"...and on the edge of "What" I ask you??
How about we work on some REVIVAL instead of some of this other stuff???
We can do things "simple yet elegant".....I believe this and I'm for anyone looking like we are the "hillbilly" church, although you know me I believe the hillbilly's have to have a church too. It just won't look the same now will it???
I like nice things as much as anyone but there comes a point where some of this just doesn't really matter does it?? Not when people are dying from AIDS and malaria all over the world and we are out of control in our churches with all their decadence.
Besides.....if I recall it correctly....this will probably all burn up right and we can't take anything with us.....just PEOPLE!!!
I'm totally grossed out by our selfishness and self righteousness while we act like......"oh we gave this much $$$ to missions."
Right well then again you spent thousands on matching paper plates and cups that you THREW AWAY in the trash.
You could have given so much more had you cut the pork and it was all for looks.
Church budgets today are astronomical but no one knows this because there aren't any reports or business meetings. When things are reporter and handed out it's on odd nights and things are so foggy, pie graphs, etc. that you can't really see where YOUR money is totally going.
You don't know how much your Pastor's salaries (plural...figure that one out)are or how much that he spent on trips last year or whatever, I'm just grabbing in the air here.
A person doesn't really realize how much money goes for printing costs or food expenses for staff events, recording or TV costs or whatever things your church is primarly involved in doing.
Missions and benevolence......that's an important figure. Those are the figures I always check first. Do you know how much the church is using out of its budget for those things?? I hope it's a MAJOR portion.
YOU will stand accountable for this issue. How you gave your money and to where and how it was used.
Do we realize this? I'm not saying that you have to be a control freak about it. Don't go and rampage at the accounting door on Monday mornings besides most church offices are closed which I am for.....so don't do that same act on a Tuesday....but you should know.
You should have some sort of knowledge about this issue.
This isn't the "People's Temple" you know..or it shouldn't be.....there should be some accountability given for church monies...and how they are used and spent......that includes little churches and big churches, little ministries, big ministries.
In the end, our church back home fell apart.
It split....some people left on their own over the heartbreak...and the other man took some of the people and started his own church.
Our church was severly damaged from the hit it took...people were hurt and embittered....who wouldn't be?
Time they say heals all wounds. But does it?
Through the years it has gone through many Pastors. It's never been the same nor has it impacted the town the way it did during those years when Pastor Riche was alive and preaching. Had the other man been properly restored, like he was supposed to be I don't think any of that stuff would have maybe ever taken place.
Or he could have left and gone somewhere else to get his family healed...but he wouldn't finish the process. He didn't see the need and he felt he was fine at that point.
Later on, while Pastoring the new church, he and his wife finally divorced, their family was divided. That church has never impacted the city and I don't think it ever will.
Hurt people, hurt people you know.
Until they are restored and healed.....unless that happens....the journey just goes on and on and on.
Let's face it....Churches, Pastors, Ministries do goofy things okay.
They hurt people and they do some things wrong from time to time. It happens.
I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it happens and we can't stick our head in the sand about it.
These operations are are led by mere mortals and they tned to mess up at times. I don't condemn them for this. People get off course at times......their compass gets messed up. I'm not against anyone that fails or falls...or goofs up because it can happen to the best of people...even the most GODLIEST of people. What I DO condemn them for is not "changing" things in their lives and or ministries when they realize they've goofed up.
I know.....that many of these men and women lay in their beds at night and think to themselves...."This is not how I wanted it to be. It all started out right but now it's off track and I can't get it back to where it needs to be." This is because of pride. They can't stop doing what they are doing because they can't admit they are wrong or made a mistake and sadly......they are in danger of loosing it all at some point if they have been convicted by the Holy Spirit and don't stop and repent and change things.
Pride comes in and all of a sudden.....we think WE know what's best and we change the "marching orders." We've all seen it or maybe even been a part of it.
Some of us have been victims of it. Some will be in the future if things don't change.
Yet we must forgive and press onward and pray for healing and restoration for these people and those that have been damaged.
This is why my friends, we have to do it right when things go wrong.....no matter how bad it hurts upfront. Correction is a must in our lives if we are Christians. I'm not sayig YOU are the one to correct the Emperior....yet you are the one to say that the "Emperior" is "naked" in your heart and deal accordingly with it.
Not that you challange the person...you MUST pray for that person...but once you realize in your heart that they are naked and you have to challange yourself about being in that type of boat. Some must get out before it sinks or before they become negative and bitter in the midst of the nakedness yet still staying, trying to hang on...... best to get away sometimes.
Just know though....It WILL cost you something. Maybe even your position in or at that ministry.
Don and I have THREE remarkable friends that this happened to in the past year. All live in different parts of the country...none were connected in any fashion in their ministries....things went awry in all their settings due to main leadership...and they've all realized at various times that they could no longer sit in the seat of compromise.
They had to make decisions to leave their positions at their churches. It has cost them dearly but they have gained the respect of God and man. They didn't rebel...they didn't cause a hullabaloo.....they just resigned their posts and left.
They are all rebuilding their lives now.
Another friend of ours was fired.
Fallout can become ugly you know especially depending on who you are friends or allies with. They too become targets for paranoid Pastors/Leaders, etc. etc.
All these people we know have been damaged by leadership. All these people were innocent. They didn't deserve the treatment they recieved by the "brethran."
All these people are now in the forgiving and healing process and I am proud of them for moving onward in a difficult situation. That's all we can do. Either sit with the naked Emperior and admire what he's doing or.......deal with the nakedness.
God is a forgiver and a restorer and HE will do the work if we allow Him to and not try to tell Him, the creator, what to do. It just doesn't work that way does it?
God give us strong men and women of God who are Shepherds, who love us but will teach us, who will lead us, who will correct us but who will also rebuild us...who will impart Psalms 23 to us and so, so, more.
Help us Lord we are needy. We need to repent. We need restoration.
We need to get back to some basics.
In this age of "instant gratification"...
We need to "re-dig the ancient wells of our Fathers."