Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Time Out!

I want to make a brief interjection here and point out a few things that I have been thinking about lately. I know from personal experience that it is easy to blame others when we feel like we have been hoodwinked or misled for any length of time. I have struggled with these very feelings in the past and understand that they are real and it is by God's grace alone that I am no longer in bondage to them. Many of us bought into the IFBx movement and the man-centered ministries that promote it in years past--God is gracious to have shown many of us the errors and directed us to Christ-centered ministries--Praise the LORD!

I have seen many individuals and families move from distant states to Hammond in order to be under "the greatest church since First Baptist of Jerusalem" and the ministry of Jack Hyles. Far too often these same people become disenchanted with many things at FBCH and in the end leave church and following Christ altogether--Northwest Indiana is littered with many of these spiritual corpses. I find this heartbreaking and no doubt the LORD desires to see them come to a saving faith in Him for His glory! We must not throw out Christ when men disappoint us and fall away--if I have learned anything from my time in Hammond it is to ALWAYS keep my eyes on Christ and not on men.

As believers we are responsible for our own actions and/or inactions. We cannot adopt the worldly philosophy of playing the blame game whenever we feel like we have been "burned". I want to make it clear that I hold no bitterness or feelings of hatred towards FBCH, Jack Hyles, or anyone else in their related ministries. We all remember well the story of Joseph and his words to his brothers upon revealing himself to them in Genesis 50 verse 20: "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." I would not change the fact that I was raised in FBCH for anything--I serve a Sovereign God who had me there for a purpose and I don't need to be able to wrap my 8 ounces of grey matter around all of the reasons right now. I came in contact with some fine and sincere Christian folks at FBCH and HAC--I learned things that I would not have learned anywhere else.

Psalm 145:17 says: "The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works."

Does God know what He is doing with my life? Does God want us to dwell on past mistakes? Does God want us to blame our decisions on others? Does God want us to seek revenge and waste our days grinding axes? I believe the answers to these questions are obvious in light of the Scriptures. I want to focus the rest of my life on seeking God's glory alone with or without man's approval--every day is full of His grace towards us who are His children.

I believe it was Becky who commented the other day that we need to echo what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14: "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." I agree wholeheartedly with her and think that this is a great challenge for B&C! The future is bright and full of possibilities when our focus is right--on the LORD Jesus Christ and His glory alone!

Play on...

Phineas

10 comments:

Chelle Y. said...

Matthew,
I so agree with you. I do not regret my years there or any where else I attended a IFB church. I met my husband at one, was able to adopt our son through two of them, and have some of the happiest memories from all of them. I even still have some very dear friends from those churches too.

No regrets. I owe so much to the people who loved me enough to have invested their lives in me. They were "stuck" in the same bondage as I was and probably did not know any better either. I still love them and are thankful for them.

Brother Hyles, Dr. Evans, and most of the staff were so good to me. I owe so much to Dr. Cowling whose family took me in and loved me like their own daughter when I was so far away from home. I have not hatred or bitterness toward any one there.

God is Sovereign. I do not understand many things that happen in my life, but it's not for me to understand. I just have to keep trusting Him and know that every thing is according to His plan. He is the One who had me go through all that and there is no way that I am going to be bitter toward Him :o)

Thanks for sharing,
Chelle

Mike Hess said...

Matthew,

Most former HACers (if they are honest) will admit that when they first left HAC & FBCH that there was still a great deal of bitterness and disillusioned feelings that resonated as a result of their split from the college and church. I am no exception to that.

Having been eight years removed from FBCH and HAC I can honestly look back at our experience there as God's sovereign hand working mightily in our lives. All of us who lived through the dictatorial leadership, high pressured and results driven evangelism, legalistic and man-centered rules, and the idolatry that was and still is HAC and FBCH have a very clear understanding of the dangers that anthropocentric theology does to those involved in it. Yes, I did meet my AWESOME wife there. But that is truly a gift of God's grace and not Hyles' supernatural power of matchmaking. The friendships that we made there were truly great and it is sad that many cannot continue to this day because many have placed blind loyalty above principle.

I do not hold contempt or bitterness against anyone there. However, I do feel a great deal of sadness for many people there. Sadly, many have a view of God that is very skewed and marginalized due to their obsession with numbers and pleasing man. Many will never come to realize the joy that comes through finding our contentment and pleasure in God alone. I also feel for those who are gripped in the "golden handcuffs" that Hyles so effectively used to keep people under his wraps. All of us who have had association with that place know the poor pay that teachers and staff members get there. Many of these dear people have nowhere to go and are forced to work two to three jobs just to make ends meet.

I too thank God for the many friends that I made while at HAC. Some (though not many) still stay in contact. Others consider me to be the district manager of the anti-christ. That is fine. I now know the true joy of preaching the Word and making true disciples of Christ, not fabricated prayer repeaters who have become my Monday morning testimony to Ray Young and other bus workers who are impressed with our leading others to "walk the aisle".

Mike Y said...

Matthew,

I couldn't have stated it better myself. I am very thankful for all of what God has taken me through. He has opened my eyes to so many things I might not be aware of. As a result, I believe I can be a help to folks out of the scriptures and with a compassion that otherwise might not be.

God truly is sovereign over us and he has guided each of us along our unique paths. Each one of us is being conformed to the image of his son. There is certain to be pain involved in the process. But if you read Romans 8, our glorification is already complete in him, though it's still unfolding in our lives. That should give us great comfort and there is no reason for bitterness.

God bless you and your work!

-Mike

Judson boy said...

Your ref is calling a technical foul but the technical foul is deserved.

PT Barnum said...

Judson,

Listen, I had a hockey ref calling a timeout which looks just like a technical foul in basketball. Joshua saw fit to completely veto my picture and insert what is now there. I am going to have to say that this rascal is actually on skates and calling a hockey game so what do you think of that? Just kidding--nice catch.

Matthew

BeckyJoie said...

You are shining examples of people who found the truth and forgave. Some people become disallusioned when they've discovered they've been deceived so that they become bitter "sheep stabbers" rather than rescuers.

I really hope that those who are still involved with HAC and FBC will know that we love them and pray for them. I only want them to feel the freedom that I feel in Christ, knowing that I do not have to meet up to someone else's ideals, only biblical standards. I'm no longer bound by guilt or fear. I can and do read with great pleasure the Bible and study it daily. I can read Christian books, listen to Christ-filled music and enjoy my life in Christ. I truly can live the abundant life. I am blessed to be a part of a Bible-believing historically fundamental church where the people REALLY love God and love people! The fellowship is sweet, like having a second family. I can be real with them, sharing both my shortcomings and strengths.(Yes, I have both.)They still love me and don't put me on a "bad list". It's an example of unconditional love. They don't close their eyes to sin but help the sinner come to Christ for victory.
We study the Bible together and pray together. We work together to witness and teach the younger generations to fear and honor God and to love Him. It's what I want for those who are still stuck in Hyles camp or IFBXdom. I want them to know the beauty of liberty in Christ. Grace. Not liberalism but grace.

Judson boy said...

"Just kidding--nice catch."

I was only kidding as well. ;)

maranatha man said...

Matthew,
Thank you for the awesome words of encouragement. I too, like so many others, made my yearly pilgrimage to Hammond for Pastor's school. As a young pastor, I really believed Jack Hyles hung the moon. How mistaken I was! Stories about momma and skyscapers sermons built on personal illustrations convinced me that "Preacher" was God's man. Thank God I was delivered from this ministry of manipulation. Keep sharing God's love!

PT Barnum said...

Bro Mountain Man,

Great to hear from you--Hyles sure knew how to tell a story that could pull at your heart strings! I still believe that his opening monologue was second to none--my oldest brother used to refer to it as a "laugh factory". Can you imagine listening to that stuff at least 3 times a week every week for 24 years? Now you know why I am so nuts! lsadfjalsdgj;asjdfl;jsadf!

Matthew

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