So I am on retreat a few weeks ago, deeply in the Psalms and I come to the 25th Psalm verse 21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.” I am so struck by that verse that I stay there for hours rolling it over in my heart and mind.
I am led to one other verse the whole day-Psalm 41:12.
Psalm 41:12 reads “In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”
In these several hours of rolling over just two verses the Lord spoke so clearly to me. His protection and His presence is given in a life of integrity!
Now hold that thought and interface it with a phone call I received one week from the day of my retreat. It was from a dear friend who for the past twelve years had been a teaching pastor, senior pastor and a fairly well known speaker on issues effecting men. He was calling to tell me that he had resigned his position as senior pastor. I knew what the next words were going to be as my heart sank- he had been unfaithful to his wife. As we talked he confessed to me that since taking the position as senior pastor he had begun to drift away from Jesus. I thought immediately about what Jesus had just shown me in the Psalms in regard to integrity. Clearly this bright pastoral superstar had moved out of the Lord’s presence and thus His protection by even his own admission.
In a situation like this it is so easy for an individual like myself who God has given the leadership of a cutting edge soul care ministry to become so self-righteous. I had just been with God and He had showed me again the answer to the duplicity and destruction my friend was clearly immersed in at this time. Why didn’t he get it? Wise up buddy!
But the sadness in my heart overwhelmed any other response at the time. The phone call only reinforced the urgent stark nature of what God is trying to tell His people at this time.
Integrity in all our institutions, government, business and the church, is a scarce virtue. Individuals in these institutions are falling like trees in a forest in the midst of a tornado, and God is clearly saying-if you have no intention to live in my will, my character, demonstrating a single minded life of integrity, loving ME more than ANYTHING else- YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN! NO PROTECTION-NO PRESENCE. Chilling? I hope you answered yes my friend.
My concern is for the church, if the church begins to understand this then the people in government and institutions who ultimately are the church will reap the benefits.
I am just as sick as the next person of beating up on the church but folks there is a big challenge out there. When a church leader falls so many individuals are diminished by his/her actions. The spouse, the children are obvious but how about the reputation of Christ in the non believing world?
How about the behavior of the believing world(including the leaders congregation) as they go into the other institutions of our society?
So what is the solution? I think we can find an answer in Psalm 41:12. PRESENCE!
Do we teach our people how to acquire and stay in the presence of the Trinity at all times? Clearly the answer is no. I know this is hard but it is straight talk- one of the reasons it is not taught is that most leaders are too busy to go slow and even interact and acknowledge the reality of the Trinitarian presence that is with them constantly. Thus they do not know how to talk about it in terms of their lives so they just leave it alone and avoid being busted.
It is time for church leaders to be told by their boards, elders, seminary profs, etc to routinely STOP and LISTEN. It is time to teach pastors and leaders how to acquire the presence of the Trinity and to hear from God. The lack of this in our lives is killing the church, and devastating our society- flat out!
Once pastors and leaders learn and make this a stable of their lives they can impart this to their people, who then can become the people of protection and presence wherever they go.
It is a process that involves steady intention and practice of many anchor spiritual disciplines.
I am so convicted in this regard as the Word and reality collided in my experience these past weeks. This just reinforced all the more everything I have been seeing and hearing for over a decade now within the church. It was a bit distant but now it has come to my door.
I urge you to be a restorer of the reputation of Christ to our world! It all begins with PRESENCE. Everything good, right and beneficial is driven by PRESENCE. Cultivate a continual presence of the Trinity in your life through the spiritual disciplines. Encourage your pastor and leader to STOP, SLOW DOWN and be a restorer through PRESENCE.
Love to hear your stories of how you are becoming a restorer through PRESENCE.