A different kind of gardener.


It concerns me about the current hubbabaloo that is going on again about a well known pastor who had fallen from grace. That is, mans grace. In any kind of conversation about the brokenness and sinfulness of humanity, its iImportant to recognise that nothing ever catches God by surprise, and that it is he who knows the beginning and the end. It is he who is the alpha and the omega.

Scripture tells us a lot about gardening. Jesus taught us through many parables using gardening and farming as examples. And the Apostle Paul likewise used gardening metaphors to describe the process of sowing, watering and he who harvests.

I enjoy gardening. Slowly our front flower garden is taking shape, and the vegetables in the back are starting to be harvested on a regular basis. And on a regular basis I find myself pulling out weeds from the garden beds. But within the framework of gardening I find an unusual thing in the scriptures. Next to nothing is said about pulling out weeds.

Paul emphasises that some sow, others water, God does the growing for the harvest. And in Mathew 13:30 Jesus gives his advice as to what to do about weeds. He tells a story about there being two sowers. One sowed wheat..but the other sowed weeds. And when asked about pulling the weeds up, Jesus said to leave them there until the time of harvest. And then, the weeds will be bundled for destruction, and the wheat collected for harvest.

Iā€™d like to close with this question. What type of kingdom gardener are you. Are you a sower. A waterer. Or are you a non kingdom gardener who is more interested in pulling out the weeds and in doing so, uproot the wheat at the same time.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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17 Responses to A different kind of gardener.

  1. Mark Stevens says:

    I still think the question needs to be asked, what do you do with those who contaminate the soil? In regards to the person of whom you speak its not that they cannot be forgiven or restored to the community. It is about professional standards and ethics. There are some things that pastors do (as sinful, broken human beings) that, in my opinion, exclude them from ministry. In much the same way that if a sppouse cheats then what they have done my exclude them from being married. Just because they want back in doesn’t mean it will happen. They can receive forgiveness and restoration as a human being but the wronged person can say I am not going to be married to you any longer. There are consequences to our actions. šŸ™‚

    • Craig Benno says:

      Mark, I understand your struggle here.
      My reply is do you think God knows what he is doing..has the Holy Spirit withdrawn his calling, his gifting, his working in this pastor?

      I kinda like to believe that God knows what he is doing, even if we don’t understand it. And yes, he did a terrible thing. He had terrible struggles that I don’t understand. My own struggles and brokenness are enough.

      Within the framework of kingdom living, how would you expect this fellow brother to live out his kingdom calling in the now

    • Craig Benno says:

      P.S the consequences of his actions were implemented at the time, he was removed from ministry…I wonder if we would expect a fallen evangelist never to evangelise and tell others about Christ ever again?

      • If that’s the case, God can do just fine without him if he’s a threat to the church or putting unbelievers on bad soil. I don’t know who the pastor is in question so I don’t know what they’ve done. For some criminals for example, they should be permanently barred from society or from certain areas or situations. We know that people can be restored, but with some things unfortunately we can’t take chances. There are other things they can do besides what they were doing.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Hi Jeff.

        I agree that in many cases we do need to remove people from ministry. And this person was..he was publicly removed a number of years ago… and some time later he started up a new ministry, ministering to those he had formerly condemned.

        If he had of gone to jail, which he didn’t. And as far as I know, no state crimes were committed. Would we expect him to keep silent in jail, or would we like to think he would within his area of influence, continue to minister the grace of God to those around him?

        I long for the day when we stop thinking of Christian ministry as position, position, position. It’s not about position. Within every sphere of our life, we are called to minister within that sphere of life we are called.

        If someone is called to be a pastor, or a prophet or a evangelist and has that gifting on their life.. you can not expect them to stop ministering in that gifting – because its an essential and integral part of their spiritual dna…

        We stand up in our churches every Sunday and applaud King David, the Adulterer. We preach about Samson and God’s mighty working in him… what a story of grace and mercy and restoration that Samson is.

        Far to often the churches response to the fallen is one of the brother in the story of the prodigal son, The one who has a tantrum. The one who has a dummy spit about his father throwing a party for his wayward brother. The one who hated the thought of his father putting a ring on his finger and a new robe…

        šŸ™‚ ill climb down off my soap box now…

      • Drewe says:

        Craig – I think the answer is grace and discernment. Excluding the ‘current’ talk, my thoughts ‘in general’, rather than specifically.

        Firstly, you are right that grace must prevail! And no, the fall never precludes God using that person again I would say, but even that person will admit that certain boundaries need to be set. Two examples.

        Firstly a pastor who abused church funds for personal benefit. Yes, there is a time of healing, repentance and searching – but I can see nothing there to stop them ministering again. But any discerning group elders will want to make sure that pastor simply no longer has that access. If I had been the one tempted that way, I would want to be allowed to minister, but I would not want anything to do with the money ever again – no because I didn’t repent, but because that is obviously an area I need to be careful with.

        What about a pastor who became ‘involved’ in some way with someone who was coming to them? Again – this is a pretty serious thing to happen. But God can change anyone – and forgive, and heal, and restore. Again, if that were me, I would expect the elders to help me not be in that position again. Still be available to counsel people maybe – but always someone else in the office next door, and the door is open. Simple, off the cuff solution, not just for personal accountability, but also that then shows everyone else that we simply can’t be in that place again.

        It’s always rough to talk about someone we don’t know (even if much of the talk is based on things they have said), hence the generic. But yes – Grace. Yes – discernment. That way we remain ‘above reproach’, and don’t risk ‘falling into a snare of the devil’ (both 1 Timothy 3).

        Craig – there will always be those around us that seek to tear down no matter what the cost or effect (or even especially for the effect), the warning is valid to be sure we are not just tearing down or ripping up for effect or because of self righteousness – but don’t become discouraged, not everyone is like that either!.

      • That’s partly what I was saying. If someone is shepherding a large group of people and has a proclivity to doing a lot of damage, they possibly shouldn’t be allowed to do that again. But that doesn’t mean they have to stop ministering, they just can’t be a pastor anymore. David shouldn’t have been allowed to be alone with anyone else’s wife either. He just can’t be trusted in that way no matter how things look. He may be delivered from that desire, but because of his actions, the consequences prohibit him. He’s lost the right to do that.

  2. Drewe says:

    One last little one – take a look at the comment on Marks post – I put an example (a true one with names removed) that shows that sometimes, just sometimes, grace does prevail!

  3. I think a specific situation would need to be put forth, but since you rightly don’t want to gossip or denigrate anyone, it’s hard for me to decipher exactly what you’re saying in the post. Maybe I shouldn’t have replied because of that. Anyway, you know that my blog isn’t the type where I point this stuff out. Some poeople on Facebook and some blogs bug me because they seem to enjoy posting the worst things they can find. They have their reasons but I think those reasons are stupid.

    • Mark Stevens says:

      he’s talking about Haggard.

      Craig, I think people need to be discerning. Judgmental, no. But discerning absolutely. God needs him not his gifts.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Mark, can you distance a person from the gifts that God implants in him.. for instance.. say you fell from grace – would that therefore nullify the deepseated implanted call of God that is over you, in you and permeating through you in that you are a pastor..

  4. Craig Benno says:

    Drewe, I totally agree that accountability needs to be in place. Within the context of embezzlement, every healthy church / org needs to have a system in place where one person does not have sole access to any funds.

    Again mutual accountability is needed within all ministry aspects. It’s often advisable for any one on one ministry with the opposite sex or if your tendency is towards same sex attraction to limit that to a public place, or where both parties can be seen..such as leaving office windows open instead of blinds being drawn. Within the framework of mutual accountability, churches need in place a system where by complaints can be made and investigated by a neutral party for the health of all concerned.

    What concerns me about the article in question is how the pastor who reached out to the fallen pastor (which i find the term “Fallen” an oxymoron, because we all are fallen) lost members of his congregation over it, was distanced and estranged from other pastors and encouraged to drop his newly formed friendship with him.

    Jeff, I think every individual can do a lot of damage in the church.. which is why I tend to agree that our typical church model of having one main pastor is biblically weak and suspect. Rather the NT church model should be that of a plurality of elders and not elders / pastor.

    I wonder if we would be so vehement against the person in question if he had actually committed adultery with a woman, and not a man?

    • Drewe says:

      The question of if we would react the same way if it was a same sex adultery raises an interesting question – well put. In theory, we should react the same way – because it is still sin, it is even still adultery. But our reactions aren’t always the same based on our own prejudices…

      As for the guy who reached out’s church? Yes – that is at the very least concerning! I don’t know what they thought or why they thought it – maybe it came out in a different way than we see – for example, it might have come out as ‘did you know our pastor is meeting a fallen pastor who was involved in homosexual affairs outside of church’? The reaction is still wrong, but we also can’t see the way it was initially spread and perceived…. I guess it remains a reminder to keep our own hearts in check – in all aspects!

    • Mark Stevens says:

      Craig I don’t see anyone here being vehement and I was certainly not judgmental in my posts or comments so i am confused as to why you think that is the case.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Hi Mark, my comments about Vehemence wasn’t directed to your comments or post; rather it was towards the initial article in Christianity today in which the pastor who did the reaching out, suffered for it.

  5. I didn’t know there was an article so I guess I was shooting in the dark.

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