August 28, 2011
Zachery Tims: What The Church Can Learn From His Death
Zachery Tims – Some Background on Recent Events in his life and Death
My heart is heavy as I write concerning the recent death of the well known Televangelist and Preacher Zachery Tims, who was recently found dead in the W Times Square Hotel in New York City. The media has reported that there was a “white powdery substance” found in his pockets, and he was found lying face up on the floor of his hotel room. What make this more tragic is that he was only 42 years old.
Now this blog is not to speculate or gossip concerning the final moments of his life, because that is yet to be determined, however, as I look at the life of this man, from what he has written about himself in the book It’s Never Too Late, he describes how he as a “teenage criminal” who was addicted to cocaine was convicted of attempted murder and was incarcerated for two years in juvenile facilities as a child. He says he overcame this by becoming born again, and finding his “divine destiny,” becoming a successful businessman, and founding the church he of which he was Senior Pastor, New Destiny Christian Center.
According to the report in Charisma Magazine, Pastors Zachery and wife Riva Tims ended their 15-year-marriage in late July 2008, two years after it was discovered that Zachery Tims had an affair with an exotic dancer he met in Paris. He released a statement to Charisma magazine on August 14, 2009. Zachery Tims stated, “I submitted myself to an ecumenical council of clergy that came into my ministry and ran the spiritual operations while I submitted myself to a counseling and ministry facility for several months out of state.” Tims said it was never his intention to hurt his family, “It was never my intention to hurt anyone, and over this reality I have spent many days seeking God’s grace. I am grateful for the love my family continues to extend to me as an individual and as a child of God.” He returned to the pulpit three months later, after beginning counseling with a group of ministers. His ex-wife Riva then began Majestic Life Church where she is the pastor.
Tims was extremely charismatic in his preaching. He had his own television program which appeared regularly on Christian television networks entitled No Limits, and his Church, New Destiny Christian Center, had over 8,000 participants.
His wake and funeral, attracted “superstar” Mega Church preachers. T.D. Jakes preached at his funeral, Jamal Bryant, and other mega church leaders such as Paula White, who Tims called his “Spiritual Mother,” were in attendance as well.
Is “Sitting Down” The Proper Biblical Approach to Sin?
Many churches are quick to “sit down” leaders who are caught in public sin only to put them back in roles the bible disqualifies them from assuming. When someone has been involved in some scandal or sin revealed publicly, or at least amongst members of the church, church leaders tell the spiritual leader or ministry member take a “hiatus” from assuming their role either in leadership or other positions, and usually go through some counseling or waiting out the cause of reproach. (such as a pregnancy out of wedlock, shacking up etc.)
While I do believe that certain offenses and reproach can be removed from those in leadership and they can return to their role, was three months sitting down enough time for Tims to get over the pain and circumstances of his divorce and get back into the responsibilities of being an elder? Should Zachery Tims have been able to return to the pulpit looking at the qualifications if 1 Tim 3? What was the reasoning for him returning so quickly? Was it because Tims was THE face of NDCC? Was it his persona and charisma, for he was quite the dynamic and charismatic preacher? Was it the fact that the people demanded that he eventually return, or was it his desire solely to return to the role that outweighed all other dissent at the time?
In the aftermath of all of this, I wonder about how his soul was cared for in the church. What were the men who counseled him thinking when (and if) they recommended he return after such a short time? Was there ever time set aside for him to try to reconcile his marriage after adultery? As they say in certain parts “Somethin’ in the milk ain’t clean,” but the truth of the matter is clear to me: Zachery Tims should have never been allowed to operate in the role as an elder after the news of his adultery was aired publicly. The bible is clear about elders being above reproach, having a good reputation with outsiders, and being the husband of one wife, and this scandal concerning his infidelity disqualified him from assuming the role of an elder. I can’t help but to think that the very leaders who preached and attended his funeral themselves have been revealed in infidelity, (Paula White and Jamal Bryant) and continue to preach yet they are not qualified due to public scandal of their own.
The Church for decades have ignored the warnings from scripture when it comes to dealing with brothers and sisters caught in sin. Whether repentance is present, or blatant unrepentant sin is evidenced, Matthew 18:15-20 clearly tells us how to deal with saints concerning sin, as well as Gal 6:1-2, 1 Cor 5, 2 Cor 2:5-11, And passages in 1 Tim 5:1-2, 19-20, tell us how to specifically deal with pastors in the same context.
Family is the FIRST Ministry
It is obvious from pure observation that members of NDCC, especially the elders amongst them, should have had an active role in protecting their pastor and their congregation from further scrutiny. YES, not only is your pastor to care for YOU, but the body of Christ is to care for their pastor for he is a brother in the Lord. Amidst the charisma, flash, shouting, praising etc., there should have been SOMEONE to speak up and say “NO Pastor, you need to get your married life in order, you need to take some MORE time to mend fences with your wife and family.” If someone did step up, this man’s sin seems to have been glanced over as if it were some small thing that three months of sitting down could supposedly fix. It is never that simple.
No one knows all the details concerning what has happened in Tims’ marriage, but infidelity is a SURE SIGN THERE WERE PROBLEMS. Did someone care about this man’s soul? Or were we too busy wanting to be entertained by him to notice his marriage was falling apart? The church has certainly forgotten that the first ministry ordained on earth was that of marriage and the family. Today it is more about “ministry” and building big buildings and organizations. This monster of man’s creation, known as the Institutional Church turns men into idols and people into idolaters… and we know what God does to idols and those who worship them right? He utterly destroys them.
God Is Speaking: Are We Listening?
“God has something sobering to say to us through the death of this popular preacher.” – J. Lee Grady contributing editor of Charisma Magazine
When a preacher with the popularity of Tims dies at such a young age, there are always lessons to take from his life. While there were points of doctrine and practice for which I have disagreements with Mr. Tims, I do respect the fact that he did lead a congregation, but that is neither here or there. None of that matters now being that he is passed on.
What I do see today is God exposing darkness to the light, and sending shock waves through the church. Over the last few decades or so, God has been exposing false teachers and preachers very publicly for who they are. The question remains, are his people listening? Do the sheep hear God’s voice or are we still yet asleep?
In our permissive culture we’ve lost the will to confront. God’s commandments have become suggestions. Accountability is viewed as legalistic. Morality has been redefined. And we’ve dropped holiness from our vocabulary.
As a result of our spiritual laxness, congregations not only tolerate but celebrate leaders who are unrepentant about their moral failures. As long as adulterous preachers tickle ears and soothe guilty consciences with empty words about prosperity, big crowds will keep the offering plates full. This fake religious game is a mockery of all that is decent and godly.
I won’t win any popularity contests for saying this. But I believe the Lord is speaking a sobering message to us through the death of Zachery Tims. God will not be mocked. As in the days of Isaiah, the Lord is saying to His people: “I’ve had enough!” (Is. 1:11, NASB).
The Lord is weary of our religious games. He’s going to close down the show. Judgment begins in the house of God. The fire of His holiness is going to be unleashed on the American church. Ministries that have been built on personality, pride, hype, charlatanism, fakery and compromise are going to crumble.
Leaders who strut on the stage, pretending to be men of God while hiding gross immorality, are on a collision course with the same God who struck Ananias and Sapphira dead in the book of Acts. We who celebrate God’s kindness must also know His severity. We who love to preach about His mercy must also know “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” ( Heb. 10:31). We who sing about heaven must also warn people about hell. – Oretha Winston Elev8.com Blog
A Message for Pastors, Leaders and The Congregation: Don’t Cover Sin!
Hindsight is 20/20 in the face of this tragedy. I do hope that there is someone reading this blog who takes heed. Please know that exposing sin publicly is the LAST RESORT for God concerning those who remain unrepentant. Go to a brother/sister who cares about you and let them win you over to the truth. Those in trouble and in sin with seemingly nowhere to turn, please remember the demise of Zachery Tims. Please know that if you need help don’t hide it, but go to someone in the body of Christ.
Listen to Him:
Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The church has covered up sin for too long. David said he acknowledged his sin to God and did not cover up his iniquity. The Proverbs tell us that He who covers his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Find mercy in the forgiveness of God… you don’t need a big ministry, lots of money, fame, prosperity etc. You need the mercies and love of God. He is the only one who can make it right.
As for the rest of you, who continue to put your pastors and spiritual leaders on pedestals so high the thin air up there suffocates them, God is going to hold you accountable for YOUR ACTIONS. YES your pastor IS HUMAN. NO your pastor is NOT PERFECT. YES your pastor will have to give an account for his own life, but we cannot continue to use these things as an excuse when they fall into sin. You cannot exalt your leaders to demigods and then cry “He’s not perfect!” or “He’s just human!” when your actions demonstrate to him that he is not. You ignore his sin, persecute those who point it out, treat him like a king, and try to protect him from the consequences of his sin even when he is dead wrong. The of exalting and idolatry of leadership and denominations has proven to be destructive.
Lord may we all learn something from this tragedy. PLEASE.