Aug 282015

Bowdendrawing.jpgIf some insiders are right this coming Lord’s Day will be “Black Sunday” in the church.

Hundreds of pastors and elders are expected to resign in moral failure, having been discovered trolling an adultery website.



Whether this happens or not, it will be “Black Sunday” in my house, for it will mark the one year anniversary of the death of Charles Bowden.

Bowden was like a living Old Testament prophet to me, a man who told the truth about himself and others without regard for cost or profit.

He was ignored by most, vilified by some, and loved by a few.

If if you speak prophetically, whether you have a mantle or not, this will be your lot.

He warned of our current water crisis back in 1977, he told us what would happen in Mexico in 1995, and he long stated that the greatest issue upon us was the worldwide migration of people fleeing oppression and poverty.

He called out people by name and sometimes the name was your own.

His greatest gift however, was in understanding human nature.

He knew and articulated better than anyone that there is none good, no, not one.

He saw the darkness in our souls and how it resided next to the light…he knew that under it all we are creatures of instinct and desire.

“Good” men are capable of incredibly bad things and “bad” men will sometimes do much “good”.

Bowden stared deeply into the abyss that is our darkness and the darkness sometimes threatened to overcome him…because he, like all of us, contended with darkness of his own as well.

I can relate…

He would not have been surprised by “Black Sunday”.

I won’t be either.

When the church became a corporation dependent on growth to satisfy the “shareholders” it opened itself to every vice and temptation common to leaders in that field.

These would be in addition to the ones common to the vocation they chose.

Men in the ministry are still men and still open to the arrows of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

We will discard a few hundred on Sunday and replace them with a few hundred that will know better how to cover their tracks.

Because the system will not change, nor the expectations of it, the song will remain the same.

We will pretend the abyss is not there and the light is brighter now.

Staring into the abyss almost drove Bowden mad.

I made my own application long ago.

I’m not that “good” myself.

I’m redeemed…and that is the wonder of the Gospel.

Rest in peace , Chuck…I miss you more than I can say.

  29 Responses to “TGIF”

  1. ““Good” men are capable of incredibly bad things and “bad” men will sometimes do much “good”.”

    We, or at least most in church, have heard the celebrated story of Samson from the book of Judges. There was even a couple of cheesy movies made about him and his story. The writer of Hebrews also (verse 32) also mentions him as a hero of faith, but when we read the actual story from the text I would not call him much of a hero.

  2. AMEN!!!!

    Great article.

  3. Samson, Abraham, Lot, Jonah…the list goes on.

    When we make the church about men instead of Christ we will always be disappointed and shocked by failure.
    God was never shocked by human failure…

  4. Thanks, Alex.
    All our heroes have clay feet…and mine are muddy too.

  5. Michael, agreed.

    I had a long (and good) conversation with a pretty influential figure in Calvary Chapel yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his story and listen to his take on church and CC and the current dynamic in “ministry”. It was quite refreshing.

    I bet he reads this article…and gets it.

    There is a remnant that are listening who are deafened by the Evangelical Religious Institution propaganda and fanfare.

  6. correction: who are “not” deafened by….

  7. looking back over my life i’ve seen many really good, insightful people who just couldn’t give themselves permission to see the evidence of God… “no good God would allow….” – i grieve for them and wonder why that wasn’t me? how did i get beyond my contempt for a Creator of a world full of such pain and miseries? i had a grandfather who was a serious man of prayer – i have a hunch i benefited from those prayers, too … ? …
    do we spend too much time praying for the “downtrodden” and not enough time praying for the blind eyes? … dunno … just wondering today

    may God ease Michael’s sorrowing heart today as only He can

  8. Thank you, Em.

    I don’t know any answers.
    I know that the truth will set us free, but we consistently stone those who tell it.

    I know that I am saved only by grace and not by my goodness…and probably should acknowledge that it is such for all.

    There are days when I am compelled to throw the rock, then call the doctor.

    I’m ready for the King to come…

  9. i will say something here – stick my neck out – IMX men in general are very vulnerable (at high and low points in their lives) to the affirmations/flattery of women and, as has been said somewhere, money and power are, for women in general, very powerful aphrodisiacs

    so #3 – the list and the history is worth a ponder – human nature is NOT ancient history

  10. We have sold our soul and lost our saltiness.

  11. Josh,

    We have not only sold our souls, we have sold souls that are not ours to sell.

    Still…He reigns.

  12. Em,

    I’m convinced that I have a tiny church and little power because God knows if He did otherwise I’d be on the cover of someones blog.
    I’m ok with that.

  13. “I’m ready for the King to come…” me too – i wish the world was… maybe close, eh?

    once in a while i can sense an unseen army staging all around us and have a slight sense of apocalypse pending – i guess we all do

  14. Michael, you have more power than you think – God has just put an internet delay barrier between you and the “masses” 🙂 🙂 🙂

  15. We bought the lie that if we bent to the whims of popular culture, the world would like us.

    When you’ve bent to the point that there is no noticeable difference between the church and the surrounding culture, then you’ve lost your ability to affect change.

    Pop culture is tossed aside every 15 minutes for the newest thing. We thought they’d let us stick around for longer.

  16. Most pastors are not in it for the money.
    Most pastors are not adulterers.
    Most pastors have given their lives to preach the Gospel and serve the people of their churches.

    I have attended churches almost nonstop since I was a baby. All kinds of churches: Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Calvary Chapel, and Orthodox.

    In all those years, none of the pastors were rich and none of them were adulterers.

    However, these men did baptize me, sit with our family all might when our dad died, loaned us cars, babysat our kids, taught us the scriptures and did their best to be good examples. I was mean-spirited to some of them but they always repaid my rudeness with kindness.

    I love an appreciate them all.

    And frankly, the continual drone that they are mostly money-grabbing adulterers is getting tiresome.

  17. *all night

  18. Xenia, you are right, but there does seem to be something systemically wrong.

  19. I can’t and won’t try to make the case for “most” being of ill repute.

    I will make the case that the system is broken and unbiblical and “too many” have succumded to it.

    Many of them did so because we demanded it…

  20. Many of them did so because we demanded it<<<

    Now you have gotten to the root of the problem.

  21. “I will make the case that the system is broken and unbiblical and “too many” have succumded to it.”

    When historically has it not been so.

    From the beginning of written times those who prey on the weaker ones superstitions and fears have taken advantage of such weakness for their own gain. Even Paul warns about those who prey on “weak” women, Luther wrote a thesis about such behavior, and so on.

    But should this stop humans from coming together as a community to hear, learn and walk with their creator? Never!

    However, we must always make sure that we are not becoming the wolf who preys on the sheep.

    What’s the old saying about power?

  22. X:

    Most pastors are not in it for the money.
    Most pastors are not adulterers.
    Most pastors have given their lives to preach the Gospel and serve the people of their church

    Ok, many? some? few? 1% ? I wonder if you count all of those skeletons hiding in the closet or in the cache’s of illicit web servers, what the #’s would be???

  23. Michael in # 3 said: “God was never shocked by human failure…” I pretty much agree with that, except I wonder much about gen. 6:6 “And it repented the LORD that he made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Can you help me understand how it would not “Shock” God, to cause Him to “regret” making man?

  24. Paul,

    The OT uses anthropomorphic language to explain much.
    I do not believe God has ever been surprised or shocked…for that would mean that He is not omniscient.

  25. Great article. My comment won’t be received well by some and I expect the theologians to pounce but when Alex and Michael are in the fire, there’s a certain amount of humility and gentleness that is quite evident and comtorting to others. David would be known as the sweet psalmist because of his trials, his failures and his pain. There is something about disappointment and storms that shape us in a wonderful way.

  26. Paul:

    Leave it to the translators to choose a word, “repent,” which we really don’t understand in the context of the text.

    The Hebrew here is “nhm” or “naham” and is not ad often used to mean “repent” as in the Hebrew word, “teshuva,”(meaning to return). It might be better used as to feel sorrow, or to be sorry as in the emotional sense of regret. One commentator made this image; a father who has watched his children go to the dark side and is internally sorry for where they have gone. The next phrase being “grieved in His heart” would reveal that to a greater extent.

    But your question would seem to ask, “Why didn’t God know what His creation would do?” That is a valid question and understanding how God could be grieved about something for-known to happen seems a bit difficult; he is God you know.

    I think the best answer is in Jesus and how He cried over Jerusalem knowing that its destruction was coming.

    As a father of adult children I still grieve when I see them do things totally preventable knowing the harm it brings (or will bring) them and yet I am far from being all-knowing.

    Are you a father of children and if so do you grieve for them even when you knew beforehand where they would go? Think about how much more so the God of creation would grieve over His creation and still have to be fair and judicial in dealing with them.

  27. Paul:

    Let me put it one more way by asking the question, “Do I regret having my children?”

    To answer truthfully there are/were times, my very selfish times, I get that subtle idea that things would have been better had I not had children or even further, not even got married. Some might even expand that to regretting being born. But those ideas are the revelation of the complete selfishness and “it’s all about me” attitudes most of us harbor at times.

    Does God “regret” like that? No the text doesn’t indicate that at all and to apply that reasoning would be to say God was as selfish as I (or you) may be and I don’t see that in the text at all.

  28. Bob,

    Thank you for the extended answer.

  29. Bob

    I understand it better as an emotional sorrow of the ‘at that time’ happening, than a sorrow for the physical action already done.

    Thanks again

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