The Critical Deception


I was in a church for several years. The pastor was one of the best preachers in America. When I first attended that church, I would sit with my mouth open in awe of the biblical teaching that came from his mouth.

As time passed, because of my position of serving the pastor, I was close enough to see his flaws. I questioned some of his ministry decisions. I became critical and judgmental, and offense set in. He preached, and I sensed no inspiration or anointing. His preaching no longer ministered to me.

Another couple who were our friends and also on staff seemed to be discerning the same thing. God sent them out from the church, and they started their own ministry. They asked us to go with them. They knew how we were struggling. They encouraged us to get on with the call on our lives. They would tell us all the things this pastor, his wife, and the leadership were doing wrong. We would commiserate together, feeling hopeless and trapped.

They seemed sincerely concerned for our welfare. But our discussion only fueled our fire of discontent and offense. As Proverbs 26:20 illustrates, "where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases." What they were saying to us may have been correct information, but it was wrong in the eyes of God because it was adding wood to the fire of offense in them as well as in us. "We know you are a man of God," they said to me. "That's why you are having the problems you are having in this place." It sounded good.

My wife and I said to each other, "That is it. We are in a bad situation. We need to get out. This pastor and his wife love us. They will pastor us. The people in their church will receive us and the ministry God has given us."

We left our home church and began attending this couple's church, but only for a few short months. Even though we thought we had run from our problem, we noticed there was still a struggle for us. Our spirits had no joy. We were bound to a fear of becoming what we had just left. It seemed everything we did was forced and unnatural. We couldn't fit into the flow of the Spirit. Now even our relationship with the new pastor and his wife was strained.

Finally I knew we should return to our home church. When we did, we knew at once that we were back in the will of God, even though it had appeared that we would be more accepted and loved elsewhere.

Then God shocked me. "John, I never told you to leave this church. You left out of offense!"

This was not the fault of the other pastor and his wife, but ours. They understood our frustration and were trying to resolve the same issues in their own hearts. When you're out of the will of God, you will not be a blessing or help to any church. When you're out of the will of God, even the good relationships will be strained. We had been out of God's will.

Offended people react to the situation and do things that appear right even though they are not inspired by God. We are not called to react but to act.

If we are obedient to God and have sought Him, and He is not speaking, then do you know what the answer is? He is probably saying, "Stay right where you are. Don't change a thing."

Often when we feel pressure we look for a word from God to bring us relief. But God puts us in these very uncomfortable crucibles to mature, refine, and strengthen, not to destroy us!

Within one month I had an opportunity to meet with the pastor of my original church. I repented of being critical and rebellious. He graciously forgave me. Our relationship was strengthened, and joy returned to my heart. I immediately started to receive the pastor's ministry from the pulpit again, and I remained in that church for years.

Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan. Lake Mary, Florida, Charisma House, 1997, p. 51-53 www.charismahouse.com

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