Friday, May 16, 2008

Sad News

I am sad. I am sad for my former church, former pastor, and a man/family I have never met. Today a minister at a church I previously served at made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, there was an online predator sting in Bryan, TX where undercover police officers were posing as a 13 year old girl. Joe Barron was arrested for online solicitation of a minor.

Our first response is to throw stones and annihilate this fraud, phony, hypocrite, and so on for what he did, but I would like to bring up to things before stones are picked up. First, at the heart of the issue, he sinned. Not against Prestonwood, not against Southern Baptist, not against you or me, he sinned against an Almighty God who loves him with an unconditional love. Second, he is now in the same place where Abraham, David, Solomon, Peter, & many other mighty men of God were at one point in their lives.

We also need to remember that every man struggles with the issue of sexual integrity on some level, which is why there is a book called Every Man’s Battle. The problem is that the once entitlement creeps into the picture, some men have the ability to do the unimaginable. It never starts off that way though, it is a slow process. Once we try something and get away with it, we slowly become numb to the guilt associated with sin and we then learn how to diminish the seriousness of sin. Next thing we know, the unimaginable becomes thinkable, then the thinkable becomes doable, and we are so dominated by sin that we cannot see the light… this is a process.

With that being said, this is a sad state of affairs. If anyone can hear this story and not immediately feel grief for his wife, family, and church family, they may not be Christian. If anyone glories in this, they are obviously on the other team than me, because this does nothing to help the cause of Christ. The church suffers because of this, but the church has a history of overcoming great falls in the past. It is my hope that if you have not done so already, you will stop reading for a brief moment and pray for Joe (he should be fired and will probably spend many years in prison), his family, and the Prestonwood family. Pray that God would comfort them and give them wisdom.

Many people will look at this situation and wonder what we should do. What should Prestonwood do? What should his wife do? What should I do? Here are my thoughts:

1. Show the love of God to Joe: Call him and tell him you still love him; let him know you are there for him, when he apologizes for his actions tell him you forgive him as God forgives him; Continue to reach out to him as he will feel alone for years to come.

2. Show the love of God to his wife and remember she did nothing wrong: Joe obviously does not “deserve” to get paid, but the church has an obligation to take care of his family, because they felt led by God to call him there; Be gracious enough to give them time to get some other form of income, so pay him for the next 3 months; reassure her that if God can overcome the grave, than he can overcome, heal, and restore anything, including this huge struggle in her marriage.

3. Get them help ASAP: New Life Ministries would be my first option ( New Life puts on a conference called the “Every Man’s Battle Workshop,” which would be perfect for him. He should also find a counselor to help him work through this huge issue I am sure he has been dealing with for years; His wife and family will also need counseling. She/they may be unwilling to get help, but offer it and then offer it again and again… she needs this!

4. Remember that it is more important to sit next to, cry with, or call and let them know you are there, than to rush in with all the answers: This is what the counselors are for, but if they ask for help or advice, freely offer it. The best thing they can get right now is a group of people who will simply be there, not to ask questions or offer advice, just to be there; Also, be intentional to let them know you are there. Do not think that doing nothing is helpful, it is not, and offering a kind word when you run into them a few months from now will seem shallow; Call, write, or email him in a way that shows God’s grace!

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