When comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:12 of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?' Obadiah 1:3
goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
A man’s brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. Proverbs 29:23
The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2:11
Your heart will become and you will forget the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:14 The LORD detests all the of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5 only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
Before his downfall a man’s heart is , but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12
What does all this have to do with the closing of my favorite ministry? EVERYTHING.
I stand before the Lord in fear and trembling right now. I am more aware than ever at my own human sin nature and frailties. I stand in fear of what my sin nature is capable of. I am a sinner and that means that I am 100% likely to fall into the sin of pride on a daily basis and to be ruined by that deadly sin. There is 100% likeliness that pride could ruin my ministry. Pride is both an ultra-sneaky and ultra-deadly thing. It is a root sin and because it is a root it lies under the surface, unseen, yet ever growing to more dangerous proportions if not checked and destroyed when discovered.
It is with humility and shameful awareness of my own failings and susceptibility to sin that I discuss this matter. Vision Forum has been my favorite ministry ever since I can remember. I remember when I first found a catalog laying around our house and I marveled at every wonderful page. It was a breath of fresh air to me. I was only 13 years old, but I knew I had found something special. I could tell that this wasn't just any "Christian" company, but it actually stood for Biblical principles that had been lost because they were deemed as "old fashioned" or "not relevant" to our modern lifestyles. At last....a ministry that was actually counter-cultural. I was totally on board and in love with Vision Forum. I immediately looked into their events and told my Dad about my desire to attend the annual Father Daughter Retreat at Callaway Gardens. Dad and I were able to to attend that two different years and the things we learned there were definitely an indispensable blessing. I was actually at the retreat during some of the filming of the documentary, Return of the Daughters, so Dad and I are actually in a very short clip. In 2007 I saw all the advertisements in the catalog and told my family we just HAD to go to the Jamestown Quadricentennial celebration. That ended up being one of the best and most memorable family trip of all time. I have not only been blessed by the events, but also by the many excellent books and CDs that Vision Forum publishes and distributes. As I look over my family bookshelf and personal bookshelves at least half of the books and CDs are from Vision Forum and are among some of my favorites.
This was such a great ministry and I just assumed it would always be there. I looked forward to going to Vision Forum conferences and events with my future children and couldn't wait to see all the new books that they would come out with. When I heard the news of the closing in late November 2013 I couldn't believe it. I was shocked to say the least. To read Doug Philips' resignation you can go here: http://visionforum.org/ My first reaction was "What?! How could this happen?! This is definitely the least likely thing I could have ever imagined!" I had always had an extremely high regard for Doug Philips, the founder and president of Vision Forum, and his family. I thought they must be as close to perfect as you could get. That's the way it looked in the catalogs. I thought they must be awesome. I've met them in person, and I still think that they are awesome, but sometimes I think I forgot that they were also human. It's not wrong to find good people to esteem and to aspire to emulate, but it's wrong to put them up higher than you ought. When I heard about what happened, I was shocked because I guess I thought Mr. Philips was "above" such sins. What I got was a cold dose of reality. No one is above anything. God is the only perfect Being, and therefore we must remember our own frailties and the frailties of others and remember to be diligent in upholding one another in prayer. There has been much already said about what Doug Philips did and about the closing of Vision Forum. I am not in a position to speak with any authority on this issue. The purpose of this post is simply this: the root of Mr. Philips' actions surrounding this resignation was pride. There is a lot to be said about the whole circumstance, but let's just focus on the main issue and instead of putting someone else down because their sin happened to have enormous consequences that broke my heart, let's use this opportunity to be filled with the fear of God. Let's remember that we are all but dust and in desperate need of God's grace every day. Our natural reaction when we hear of anyone's fall is to talk about them and how disgraceful it is.....all while feeling so good about ourselves that we didn't do such a disgraceful thing. Of course that was my first reaction as well. But let's use even this tragic and painful situation for good by turning to God and confessing our own pride. For me, it hit me hard that if someone like Mr. Philips could be overtaken, how much more likely that it could happen to me! This has caused me to have an extra amount of sobriety and caution. I have been taught a lot about the dangers of pride from books and sermons, but there's no louder and clearer sermon than watching the effects play out in a situation involving people you know and having been pained by the results.
In light of the closing of Vision Forum, we should pray for the family and VF staff, pray that Mr. Philips would have true repentance and a humble change of heart, and that God would give restoration. There is a lot that has been hurt, but pray that God would use this trial for good and that the people involved would turn to Him. Let us also remember to examine ourselves and take God's word seriously when it warns us that goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov. 16:18
"....He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone...." Jn. 8:7
"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." Rom. 2:1
"For I say to every man that is among you, through the grace given unto me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Rom. 12:3