Archive for January, 2018

When I was in London with my wife last spring, one of my goals was to see the grave of Christian hymn writer Charles Wesley.

I came prepared.  I knew the area … the church … and its location before we started walking.

On a Sunday night, we finally found it in a little park behind St. Marylebone Parish Church.



A woman who lived across the street was sitting on a bench in the gardens reading.  When we asked her to take some photos of us with Wesley’s marker, she had no idea who he was.



But when I started rattling off some of the hymns he wrote, like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” and “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” she at least knew the songs!

I’m not entirely sure why I get such a kick out of visiting the graves of famous people, but I do.

Maybe it’s my way of saying, “You still mean something to me.”  Maybe it’s a way of paying tribute to someone long forgotten.  Maybe it’s a way of being close to that person … just for a moment … since you’ll never be able to meet them in this life.

Or maybe it’s just a photo opportunity, knowing the subject can’t move and ruin your picture!

I wrote a blog called “Why I Visit Graveyards” nearly five years ago.  It’s here if you’re interested:


Today, I’d like to share the graves of ten famous people from all walks of life … and from various parts of the world:

First, Winston Churchill.

I have very few heroes, but Churchill is one of them.

And he’s a hero because he recognized the evil present in Nazi Germany and resolutely stood up to Hitler … and most members of his own government … to defeat the diabolical dictator.

I’ve been to Blenheim Palace, where he’s born … the Cabinet War Rooms in London, where he conducted the war … Chartwell, his home in Kent where he lived and painted for decades … 28 Hyde Park Gate in London, where he died … and Bladon Churchyard … just outside Blenheim Palace, where he’s buried.




Though I probably didn’t know who Churchill was at the time, I remember seeing his funeral on television 53 years ago.

I still maintain that when Time Magazine named their Person of the Century in 2000, they should have named Churchill rather than Albert Einstein.

Second, Louisa May Alcott.

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Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts is one of the oldest cemeteries I’ve ever visited.

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It’s also one of the creepiest.

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The author of Little Women is buried on Authors Ridge next to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

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My wife loves Little Women so we visited the Alcott home in Concord where you can see the actual writing desk that Louisa May Alcott used to write her famous works.

I’ll post the other graves another time.

Third, Walt Disney.

One day after visiting my dentist friend Ken in La Canada, I drove a few more miles to Forest Lawn Cemetery in nearby Glendale.

It’s one of the most famous cemeteries in the world.  The grounds are huge!



Michael Jackson is interred there, as are Clark Gable, L. Frank Baum (author of The Wizard of Oz), and many other famous people.

Because Forest Lawn Glendale has a reputation for chasing away people who want to see the graves of famous people, I stepped lightly wherever I went.

What’s left of Walt Disney is preserved in this little garden.  If you look closely, you can see his name, “Walt Elias Disney,” on the plaque at the top.


Actor Spencer Tracy is buried nearby.

Walt Disney always means a lot to me because I grew up two miles from Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

I never saw him when I visited Disneyland (Disney died in 1966), but my brother and I did see Walter Knott at Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park, and we got his autograph, which I still have.

Someone posted this on Facebook recently and I thought it was hilarious:

Disney on Ice

Fourth, Maria von Trapp.

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The entire von Trapp family is buried behind the family lodge in Stowe, Vermont.

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It was snowing that day in November when we visited, but trust me … this is where Maria was placed after she sang her final “Do-Re-Mi.”

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The captain is buried with her.

Our daughter Sarah was with us that day.  She knows every word to every song from The Sound of Music.

I love that movie, too!

Sound of Music Cast Reunion

Fifth, Marilyn Monroe.

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Marilyn Monroe is buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village near UCLA in Southern California.

Pierce Brothers is the most fascinating cemetery I’ve ever visited.

It’s located behind some high-rises just off Wilshire Boulevard.  It took me a long time to find the place because it isn’t where you think.

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Dean Martin is here.  So is Carroll O’Connor … and Peter Falk … and Merv Griffin … and Karl Malden … and Don Knotts … and Donna Reed … and Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys … and Roy Orbison … and especially Marilyn Monroe.

My friend John is the first person I ever led to faith in Christ.  John’s dad Henry grew up in the Los Angeles area and he loved to dance.  One night, he agreed to take out a young girl named Norma Jean to dance … only after one date, it was obvious she couldn’t dance.

Of course, Norma Jean Baker later became Marilyn Monroe.

After she died in 1962 … and I remember the headlines vividly … the Movieland Wax Museum in nearby Buena Park put up a giant-sized photo of Marilyn Monroe on a billboard on the Interstate 5 Freeway near Biola.

My mother used to say, “There are probably a lot of accidents around there.”

Sixth, Ricky Nelson.


There are several Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in the greater Los Angeles area, and this one is in Hollywood Hills.

I will never forget this cemetery because it’s where my wife’s 18-year-old brother Ian was buried after being hit by a drunk driver thirty years ago.  Six hundred people came to his memorial service.

Buried above Ian … on the same hillside … is Ricky Nelson, along with his parents Ozzie and Harriet.  They starred for nearly twenty years on the television show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

But Ricky also became one of the earliest rock stars and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For many years, the Nelson family lived a short distance from Hollywood Boulevard, and people could walk right up to their door without any problem.  One day, a teenage girl did just that, giving Ricky Nelson a song she wrote called “Poor Little Fool.”

That song … along with “Travelin’ Man” and “Garden Party” … are still favorites of mine.

Seventh, Pope John Paul II.

Thirteen years ago, my wife Kim, our son Ryan, and our daughter Sarah took a trip to several European countries.

One Saturday morning, we got up at 3 am in Venice so we could take the train and be in Rome in time to visit the Vatican Museum.

Only when we got there, the museum had closed early … because the assembled bigwigs were in the process of choosing a new pope because Pope John Paul II had just died.

Two days later, they chose Pope Benedict.

There were a lot of cardinals moving around that day …


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We waited 45 minutes to see the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

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When we got there, Kim’s flash didn’t work properly, and she was hustled along, so she didn’t get a good photo.

Thank God for our daughter Sarah, who did.


There are a lot of dead popes hanging around St. Peter’s in Rome:

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Peter the apostle is supposedly buried in the crypt of St. Peter’s.  I took his photo the first time I visited Rome in 1995 (no, he didn’t pose for me), but the crypt was closed this time around.

Eighth, Ty Cobb.

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Before Babe Ruth came on the scene, Ty Cobb was considered to be the greatest baseball player in the world.

Cobb won twelve batting championships and hit .367 lifetime.  Almost nobody in our day hits .367 in any given year, much less for their entire career!

When the Hall of Fame began in 1936, Ty Cobb received more votes than any other player … even more than Babe Ruth.

My son Ryan and I took a trip to the South eleven years ago, and we made a special stop in Royston, Georgia, Cobb’s boyhood home.

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There is a museum there as well as a hospital named after Cobb.

For many years, Cobb lived in Atherton, California, less than an hour from our Bay Area home.  One of my board members said he used to sell newspapers to Cobb on the street and that he was nasty.

But Cobb could also be very charming … his legacy has been undergoing a reassessment the past few years … and I’m glad we stopped in Royston.

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When we left the museum, Ryan and I didn’t know where Cobb’s final resting place was located, so I started driving outside of town … and came right to it.

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Ninth, Richard Nixon.

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Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 as President of the United States.  I followed the entire Watergate saga very closely and twice read All the President’s Men and The Final Days by Woodward and Bernstein.

Nixon grew up and made his mark in Whittier, California, about a half hour from my home in Anaheim.  Before the 1968 election, my grandfather … who also lived in Whittier … said, “God help this country if Nixon isn’t elected president.”

Well, Nixon was elected … the final returns from Illinois came in just before I went to school one Wednesday in November 1968 … but Nixon’s reputation was severely tarnished by trying to cover up a third-rate burglary.

Nixon’s overall legacy is preserved at his presidential library in Yorba Linda, California.  I’m on the email mailing list for events at the library, and it’s amazing how many events are free and open to the public.

President Nixon is buried in a courtyard behind the museum itself:

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In May 1978, I stayed after an Angels-Brewers game at Anaheim Stadium and after the lights were turned out, Richard Nixon came out of Gate 1.  He lived in nearby San Clemente and was a frequent guest of Angels’ owner Gene Autry.

Even though there were two secret servicemen protecting the former president, three of us went up and got his autograph, which I still have.  I handed Nixon a stack of index cards intending for him to sign just one, and he started to sign the second one as well when I told him “that’s fine.”

He was so nice that night that he probably would have signed them all!

I’ve met three presidents: Nixon, Ronald Reagan (while governor of California), and George W. Bush (while president).

I’ll save those stories for another time.

Finally, Mel Blanc.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery is located on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Los Angeles area.

I understand that when the weather is warmer, they set up chairs and show old movies outside in the cemetery itself.

Some old-time stars are buried at Hollywood Forever, like Tyrone Power and Douglas Fairbanks, along with producer Cecil DeMille and even musician Johnny Ramone.

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But one of the best tombstones I’ve ever seen belongs to the great Mel Blanc, who did the voices for cartoon characters Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and even Barney Rubble of the Flintstones.

Remember how the old Warner Brothers cartoons ended?

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I have many more photos of the final resting places of famous people that I’ll share sometime in the future.

Southern California is a great place to live for visiting the graves of people in the entertainment field … if you can brave the traffic.

There are still cemeteries I’d like to visit in the greater Los Angeles area, including the burial places of John Wayne (Corona Del Mar), Frank Sinatra (the Palm Springs area), Wahoo Sam Crawford and Lyman Bostock (baseball players buried in Inglewood) and Curly from The Three Stooges (in Whittier).

Until next time … that’s all, folks!








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I once had a friend who was both a lawyer and a pastor.

He started out as a pastor … became a lawyer … and then returned to pastoring.

A prominent Christian leader criticized my friend when he went into law because, he said, “When God calls a man to ministry, he calls him for life.”

Does this mean that a pastor should stay in ministry until death?

When I pastored a church in Silicon Valley, a pastor in my city dropped dead of a heart attack … while preaching.

John the Baptist died at a young age because of his preaching.

Is that what God desires?  For a man God has called to take his last breath while serving Him?

Billy Graham has famously said that he can’t find a retirement age in the Bible, and yet even Dr. Graham (who is 99 years old) finally retired from preaching a few years ago.

I served eight local churches as a youth pastor, teaching pastor, associate pastor, solo pastor, and senior pastor over a period of 36 years.

My ministry began at age 19 when I worked with youth for the summer at my home church.

The Lord gave me many good years of ministry … but some years were rough.

I wanted to quit at age 32 … but I kept going.

I wanted to quit again at age 35 … but I kept going.

I wanted to quit again at age 44 … but I kept going.

And then the Lord “retired” me at age 56 when I was pushed out of my last and most productive ministry.

It’s been more than eight years since I preached my last sermon as a senior pastor.  Even though I wanted to retire … or die … as a pastor, I realize that I will never pastor a church again.

Why not?

Let me give you five reasons … and I’m going to be brutally honest:

First, I am the wrong age.

Most churches are looking for a pastor between the ages of 30 and 50.  My guess is that the ideal age range is 35 to 45.

Due to exhaustion, I searched for another ministry when I was 44.  One of my mentors told me, “You’ll find a church.  You’re at a good age.”

And he was right.  About a month after putting out my resume, I had an interview with a church in Illinois that really wanted me to be their pastor, although I turned them down.

My credentials didn’t seem to be as important as my age.

In my next and final pastorate, I added to my credentials:

*I earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary.

*I pastored the largest Protestant church in our city, averaging 466 in 2008.  (In our part of the Bay Area, that was like a megachurch.)

*Our church grew numerically and had a great reputation throughout the community.

*We built a new worship center.

*We had a staff as large as eleven at one time.

After I left my last church, I applied for several church positions at age 57.

*A church of 100 people rejected me for a solo pastor position within two weeks.

*A slightly larger church was looking for an associate pastor.  They turned me down in five days.

I was probably overqualified for both positions, but my age worked against me.

When a pastor doesn’t have a church, and he’s in his late fifties or early sixties, the best option for him is to become an interim pastor.

Because unless you start a church, almost nobody is going to hire you … unless you are willing to go to the East Coast … where they sometimes lack qualified candidates.

When I realized the reality of the age thing, I decided to look for a position in an older congregation … one in which an experienced 57-year old pastor might seem young.

I found such a church … in Arizona.  They were looking for an associate pastor to do outreach … right up my alley … in a church full of seniors.  I quickly made the top three candidates, but pulled out when they were going to have a beauty contest … bringing all three candidates and their wives to the church over successive weekends.

Besides, they wouldn’t tell me their salary range.

When I sent an email explaining why I was dropping out, I never heard from them again.

Thank God I didn’t end up there.

Second, I can’t put my wife through another church.

My wife Kim served alongside me in every church I pastored.  She was a camp counselor … a youth leader … the Sunday School Superintendent … you name it, she did it.

She became adept at starting ministries … recruiting and training leaders … and then handing a ministry off to them while she started another one.

In our last church, Kim served as our outreach and missions director for eight years.  She made the church go.

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But when she was attacked as a way of attacking me, she suffered greatly … and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome.

If anyone wants to know what Kim went through, we’re very free and open about it … in person … but I won’t describe the pain she experienced either in writing or online.

Being the trooper that she is, Kim would probably support me if a church called me to be their pastor, but I can’t put her through it again.

I believe that my marriage vows supersede my ordination vows … that God calls people to ministry for a season, but that marriage is for life.

I agree wholeheartedly with the words of Proverbs 5:18:

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

And I do.


Third, I couldn’t afford it financially.

I spent many months trying to find a job in the Christian community:

*I applied for the three church positions described above, but nothing worked out.

*I filled out a 13-page application for a major denomination but never heard from them again.

*I spent hundreds of dollars and invested scores of hours training to become a certified church consultant … only to discover that almost nobody became one.  (In my state, out of 34 people who had completed the training, only one had become a certified consultant.)

*I made some contacts with a group of 20 men who did interim pastoring.  I was fully vetted but nothing opened up … and then was told that I would have to pay 50 dollars every week for a one-hour coaching session via the telephone.  (Then I found out that whenever a position opened up, one of the 20 “good old boys” got it instead.  I was number 21 … the odd man out.)

*I applied for an interim position at a church in the mountains.  They called me to preach and the time went so well that a prominent leader told me I had the job.  But because I didn’t want to live in the mountains, they hired someone else.  (The position paid very little.)

*I finally received training from Interim Pastor Ministries and was immediately assigned to a church in New Hampshire.  It was a very loving, outreach-oriented church, and we’re still friends with some of the people five years later.  But my next interim assignment just wouldn’t open up.

*My director asked me if I was willing to go to churches in Louisiana … Canada … South Dakota … or upstate New York.  I finally ended up flying to a church back east, but it was such a mess that I couldn’t envision doing church ministry anymore.

*I spent three hours being grilled by a bunch of lay leaders at another church that was looking for an interim pastor.  They went with someone else as well.

*While I was trying to find a ministry position, my wife heard about a search for a children’s director at the church where I was baptized as a boy.  We visited there one Sunday and then she applied for the position.  Four months later, she finally emerged as a top candidate.  While we were in New Hampshire, the church flew her out to California for three days of intense scrutiny.  The executive pastor assured Kim that she would be hired before she left, but then wrote her and said that because their senior pastor had just resigned, they weren’t going to hire anyone.

The entire time these events were happening, we were living off the funds from my retirement account.

But as the account dwindled, I realized that if I kept applying for Christian jobs, I would probably end up with no job … and no money.

Through a series of divine events, my wife sensed God calling her to start a preschool in our house.  We began in a rented house in August 2013 and bought a house last April.  The preschool is on the first floor while we live upstairs.  It’s a full-time job for both of us but God has blessed us financially.


When I was a young man, the hiring process in churches and Christian organizations was much simpler and quicker.  It now takes many months to hire someone.

Forgive me if I don’t want to do it anymore.

Fourth, our grandsons trump everything else.

This is our son Ryan with his wife Vanessa.  They have three boys: Jack (far right), Liam (far left), and Henry (middle).



If I became a pastor again, I’d probably have to move away and wouldn’t be able to see them.

But when you become a grandparent, you understand this simple rule:

Grandchildren trump everything … for me, even church ministry.

Finally, my soul is one conflict away from devastation.

In early 2013, after spending five days at a church back east that was considering me as an interim pastor, I spoke with my ministry mentor.

I quickly told him what had occurred during those days:

*One man … who owned five fast-food restaurants … ran the church.

*The church had a school next door … and the school held great power over the church.

*The church office was located inside the parsonage … and the basement was so trashed and spooky that I’m convinced there were dead bodies down there.

*One man came up to me and kept hitting me on the arm … hard.  I don’t know why.

*One older leader criticized me severely behind my back.  I later found out that he wanted to become the interim pastor.

*The church’s associate had been touching women and girls inappropriately for a long time … and nobody said anything … until he touched a young teenage girl … who did say something.  The pastor knew about the associate’s behavior and did nothing.

*After the associate left, the pastor asked for a vote of confidence … and was voted out.

That was the church that wanted me to come as interim pastor.

When I told my mentor about it, he said, “Jim, if you and Kim go to that church, it will permanently damage your souls.”

I can’t pastor another church because almost every congregation has one or more dysfunctional church bullies … and if I meet just one more of them, I can’t predict how I’ll react.

So rather than ending up in jail … or the funny farm … or some cult … I’d prefer to keep my soul intact and leave the pastoring to others.

Life has a way of chipping at our souls, but ministry does as well.  To become successful in ministry, a pastor has to become a change agent, and the change process inevitably results in personal attacks against the pastor and his family.

And I’ve had enough.

I’m grateful for the 36 years of ministry God gave me, and I wish I could have served as a pastor until the Lord took me home … or allowed me to retire gracefully.

But I have learned that His plan for me now is to support my wife … play with my grandchildren … do some writing … attend our local church … root for the Giants … and stay as far away from dysfunctional church people as possible.

And I’m having a marvelous time doing those things!

















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John MacArthur is a famous Bible teacher, pastor, and author.

And he sometimes intimidates me because he seems to be perpetually godly rather than human … and I have a hard time relating to people like that.

Yet MacArthur has certainly played a large part in my spiritual development.

When I was fourteen years of age, I went to Hume Lake Christian Camp for the first time.  John MacArthur was our guest speaker that week.

The first night, he shared about a car accident he once had that changed his life … and he did it with great humor … but his story really got my attention.

Later that week, MacArthur challenged us to read our Bibles every day, and I took his counsel to heart, rededicating my life to Jesus Christ.

When I entered Talbot Seminary (now School of Theology) in 1975, I was well aware of Talbot’s two most famous graduates: MacArthur and Josh McDowell.

MacArthur spoke in chapel one day on the glory of God.  Afterward, my friend Dave and I talked about what made MacArthur such an effective communicator.

To me, it was his authority … his certainty … that he believed what he was telling us with every fiber of his being.

Four years ago, my wife and I finally visited Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, where MacArthur pastors.  I wrote a blog article about our visit which you can read here:


Several nights ago, this thought kept running through my mind: “I wonder if John MacArthur has any hobbies?”

While searching the internet, I ran across an interview MacArthur gave on his Grace to You radio program in 2004.  If the interview was designed to humanize MacArthur, it certainly succeeded.  The interview can be found here:


MacArthur shared again about the car accident that changed his life … about how he and his wife got together (even though she was engaged to someone else) … about another car accident that nearly took his wife’s life … and how Dr. Feinberg at Talbot reamed MacArthur out for missing the point of a passage when he preached during chapel.

And then the interviewer asked MacArthur this question:

What was the most difficult thing for you as a young pastor?

JOHN: The most difficult thing that ever happens to me, whether it’s when I’m young or old, is disloyalty at the level of leadership. Not because I deserve loyalty, but because disloyalty is so destructive. The hardest thing you’ll ever deal with is false accusation…people who say things about you that aren’t true and undermine people’s trust and confidence and this goes on in my case all the time all over the place. Not so much at Grace Church, anymore. Our people are very loyal. All the critics I’ve outlived. What are they going to bring up that they haven’t brought up in the past, you know. But even beyond Grace Church, there are all kinds of accusations and criticisms that aren’t related to reality made against me. That’s very hard to deal with because I don’t want to be viewed by anybody as unfaithful to the Lord, unfaithful to His Word as an unfaithful Christian. But I think it’s particularly painful at the level of intimacy when you pour your life in investment spiritually into men around you that serve with you and they generate a mutiny against you. That is very hard to deal with…very hard.

That happened to you…

JOHN: Oh, it’s happened several times. Yeah, it’s happened several times. And it’s a shock. You know, your own familiar friend has lifted up his heel against you, the one with whom you broke bread, you know, like the Scripture says about Judas. And I’m loyal. I think the only way to get loyalty is to give loyalty. If somebody in church comes to me and criticized another staff member, they don’t find me a very good listener. I will rise to the defense of all those that are in my care and serve alongside me. People don’t do that because they know they’re not going to get anywhere with me. And I expect in giving that loyalty to receive that back because disloyalty is so harmful to the unity of the church. So that’s always been the hardest thing to deal with. To criticize me personally, is not disloyal. To undermine me and criticize me publicly, behind my back, that’s disloyal.

Let me make four observations about what MacArthur says:

First, no pastor is exempt from leadership betrayal.

If someone asked me, “Can you think of a pastor who has never experienced staff or board disloyalty?”, my guess would have been John MacArthur.

But MacArthur admits … quite candidly … that some men around him generated “a mutiny” against him “several times.”

King David, Israel’s greatest king, knew all about such disloyalty.  He writes in Psalm 41:5-9:

My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?”

Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, “A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

Of course, referring to Judas, Jesus quoted Psalm 41:9 in John 13:18 about their own relationship.

And in 2 Timothy 4:10, 14, Paul mentions two men who betrayed him:

… Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me …

Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm … he strongly opposed our message …

If David, Jesus, and Paul all experienced betrayal, then it can happen to anybody … including John MacArthur.

I’m just glad he felt free to admit it.

Second, it’s beyond painful to support leaders fully and receive betrayal instead.

MacArthur confessed:

“But I think it’s particularly painful at the level of intimacy when you pour your life in investment spiritually into men around you that serve with you and they generate a mutiny against you. That is very hard to deal with…very hard.”

My wife and I attended one of America’s largest churches for nearly two years when we lived in Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago.

Three times within six months, I heard the church’s senior pastor talk about a staff rebellion that had occurred nearly fifteen years before.

He was still hurting over what had happened.  Years later, he still couldn’t believe those four staff members would try and push him out as pastor.

I left my last ministry eight years ago.  At one point, we had a staff of eleven people, some full-time, some part-time.

I went to bat for those staff members continually, getting them more money … more vacation time … and even giving part-timers paid vacations.

One staff member made a mistake on his taxes that cost him thousands of dollars, so I went to the board and they covered his mistake financially.

Another staff member literally worked in a closet when I came, so I made sure she came out of the closet and had her own office work space.

How was my loyalty repaid?

Some staff collaborated with my predecessor and I was forced out of office.

MacArthur survived his mutinies.  I did not.

But either way, it’s something you never forget.

Third, loyal pastors cannot understand disloyal leaders.

In the interview, MacArthur said:

“And I’m loyal. I think the only way to get loyalty is to give loyalty. If somebody in church comes to me and criticized another staff member, they don’t find me a very good listener. I will rise to the defense of all those that are in my care and serve alongside me. People don’t do that because they know they’re not going to get anywhere with me.”

Not every pastor is loyal to his staff and board.  I’ve heard some sad stories to that effect.

But the best pastors demonstrate loyalty and expect it in return.  And when the leaders around the pastor collaborate to criticize or take out the pastor, the pastor can’t get his head around it.

I served under five pastors.  In each case, I was the top staff member.

And in each case, I was completely loyal to my pastor.

Did that mean I agreed with everything the pastor said or did?  Absolutely not.

But I wanted each pastor to know that even if everyone in the church turned against him, I would still stand by his side.

So when staff members … and in my last church, board members as well … turned on me, I could not emotionally understand what they were doing.

I still can’t … because it’s something I could never do.

But sometimes I wonder, “Why was it so easy for them to be disloyal?”

Fourth, nothing hurts a pastor more than false accusations.

John MacArthur said:

“The hardest thing you’ll ever deal with is false accusation…people who say things about you that aren’t true and undermine people’s trust and confidence and this goes on in my case all the time all over the place. Not so much at Grace Church, anymore. Our people are very loyal. All the critics I’ve outlived. What are they going to bring up that they haven’t brought up in the past, you know. But even beyond Grace Church, there are all kinds of accusations and criticisms that aren’t related to reality made against me. That’s very hard to deal with because I don’t want to be viewed by anybody as unfaithful to the Lord, unfaithful to His Word as an unfaithful Christian.”

I don’t know what kind of accusations have been made against MacArthur during his long and successful ministry career.

His critics seem to single out his critical tone or his lack of graciousness whenever he deals with controversial issues … and he doesn’t shy away from anything.

In my younger days in ministry, I felt that MacArthur was a bit harsh at times.

But as I’ve gotten older, I thank God for him because he’s one of the few prominent Christian leaders who haven’t compromised or wavered on biblical truth.

What amazes me about the interview with MacArthur is that even though some leaders tried to overthrow him … and that’s the definition of a mutiny … he never quit.  He forged ahead.

You can do that more easily in your thirties, forties and early fifties.  But when a church’s leaders come after you when you’re in your late fifties or early sixties, it’s a different story entirely.

When you’re younger, if you’re “lied” out of your church, you can eventually find another church.  But when you’re older, those same churches won’t even consider you due to your age.

In my last church, I was accused of all kinds of things … especially after I resigned.

But the leaders were cowardly.  Whatever was being said, nobody said it to my face.

To this day, there are probably people who think that I had an affair … that I didn’t really preach the Bible … that I spent so much money that I left the church in massive debt … that I let my wife (who was on staff) do whatever she wanted … that I mistreated staff members … that I wasn’t approachable … and on and on.

When I first heard untrue claims against me, I wanted to defend myself publicly.

But I quickly realized it was futile.  I could not stop the tidal wave of hatred that was washing over the entire congregation.

There was no fair and just forum where I could respond to my critics.

So I just surrendered.

This kind of mistreatment has a name: “mobbing.”

In a church setting, certain leaders bury the pastor with false charges trying to force his departure.

They don’t want justice.  They want revenge.

I’m glad that John MacArthur is still pastoring Grace Community Church nearly fifty years after he began.

How has he done it?

Those who survive in ministry are those who follow Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:21-23:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

And that’s what both Jesus and John MacArthur have done over the years: entrust themselves to Him who judges justly.

May we learn from their example.






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