Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving is a great time. I love getting together with family. I love the turkey and stuffing. I love the children running around and laughing and playing. I love being able to catch up with loved ones. I love the family traditions.

I love my family. And I am very thankful for them.

Lord, thank you for this time of year.

Monday, November 17, 2008


There is one group of people that I was never able to reconcile with the "name it and claim it" message or the "prosperity gospel". Martyrs! Let's think about it a moment. If God wanted us all to live these comfy cozy lives driving all these nice cars, flying in private planes, and never having to deal with the issues of life on earth, then why did almost all of his own disciples get martyred? How come they didn't live "the Good Life" and let others come to them saying' "WOW, you are so rich. How did that happen?" Former pastor used to always quote from Malachi 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I change not..." Well, former pastor, history does not bear out this gospel of greed, but the American Dream does.

Can we really look at the martyrs through the ages and say that they were just misinformed. Can we really look at the martyrs and say if only they knew Isaiah 54:17. They could have quoted it like 20 times really fast and would have been spared. Can we really look at the lives that were affected by their obedience to God even to the point of death and say "How sad that they were misinformed. God wanted them to live like kings, not die like dogs."

How come areas where Christianity is persecuted the most seem to be areas where Christianity is exploding the most, and here in America where we have this wonderful "revelation" about how God wants us all to be filthy stinkin' rich, Christianity is in decline?

Maybe God's definition of prosper is a bit higher than we have made it out to be. Maybe God's definition of prosper isn't talking about money. Maybe God's definition of prosper includes your soul and your spirit. Maybe God wants us to live out rich (in family and friends) and fruitful (in our obedience to God) lives.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Must Give to Get

Something that I heard frequently at my old church was the phrase "You must give to get." This was always in reference to giving money and it was in order to get money, health, and material things. I still get a knot in the pit of my stomach thinking about how much money I did give at that church. How could I have been so blinded?

God gave us freely a way of salvation. We did not have to do anything except receive it. There is no penance required for salvation or forgiveness. How much more would we have to pay for healing? How much more would we have to pay for our needs met? NOTHING! Christ paid for our salvation and our healing. In Matthew 6:25-34, God promised us that if he would take care of the grass and the birds then he will take care of us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 says "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."

Going back to the quote in Matthew, Jesus said that the pagans run after things like clothing. God knows we need food, clothing, and shelter. But we are commanded to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This does not mean that we play church. This does not mean that we try our best to impress our pastor. This does not mean that we follow man. This does not mean that we must give tithes and offerings. *Please do not misconstrue that last sentence as me saying we should not give money to the local church. This means that what God leads you to do, you do it. This means that you should search the scriptures to learn about Him. Spend time talking to Him and worshiping Him.

I think back about how the message "Give to Get" was preached and now I can't help but to think about Simon the Sorcerer who tried to buy the ability to lay hands on people and they receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8:20-23 "Peter answered: 'May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.'" I was like Simon the sorcerer trying to buy things from God. I was like the pagan running after material things.

I will say it again God gave freely. We can not do anything to buy it. Instead of being taught this, we were taught that if we were going to give 50 dollars we should give 100. If we were going to give 100 we should give 200, and on and on and on. At that point it does not become worship, it is coercion. They used intimidation to obtain compliance. They just called it "the double". It has become increasingly clear to me these past few months that the sermons I was sitting under for years did not focus on seeking after the kingdom of God but rather seeking after material things. Paul said in Philippians 3:18-19 "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." My mind was on earthly things, but I was taught to have my mind on earthly things by my own pastor.

Prosperity preachers, like former pastor, are constantly wanting you to give them money. They say it is because they are "good ground" for you to give to. Because God has made them to prosper. Well, think about this: It is people like you and I who have made these men prosperous. And you may see them give gifts to other prosperity preachers, usually ones more well known then they are. But it is rare to see them give the money to people who actually need it. It is even more rare to see a prosperity preacher reject an offering just so that he can show that he is offering the gospel free of charge. Paul did just that in 1 Corinthians 9. Where is the "good ground" in giving to rich men who give money only to other rich men?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friend of God

One Sunday, while at MFC, we were singing “Friend of God”. We had a “special guest” minister in the service. And the special guest minister got up on the stage and had them stop singing the song. This minister looked out over the audience with a very upset look on his face. And he told us that we should not sing songs like that. Because we are not friends of God. We are children of God.

I seem to remember this guy telling us things that we should not do almost every time that he came to our church. I never left a service that he preached feeling uplifted or that my walk with Christ was better for hearing what he had to say. He was always bashing on the Baptists and saying things that would make you question if this man understood what love was. This minister was supposedly a prophet, although, I can't tell you one single prophecy that he gave that came true. I can think of some that did not come true... but I digress. Former pastor loved to have this guy in there so he came frequently. This morning was the icing on the cake for me.

Forget the fact that I actually liked this song, there was something really wrong with his statement. I did not know how to back up my belief though. After I left there, I very quickly found this passage of Jesus talking to his disciples in the NIV. It really helped to confirm in me how much I needed to be away from that place.

John 15:14-17
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

By the way, after that Sunday morning we never sang “Friend of God” in that church again. That song became taboo. The way that minister handled that song was not out of a spirit of love or correction. Instead it was like so many other times, a spirit of control. It was the little things like this that they tell you not to do. So you do not do it - for them. But after awhile they begin to make the demands larger and larger until you realize that you are just like a little puppet on a string. You have bought their lies. You have given up your right to think and discern things for yourself. Some would call it brainwashing. Others call it cult-like.

So I have been sitting back thinking lately about my relationship with my father. Yes, I am his child. That is an obvious observation. But are we friends? Can a father and son be friends also? Well, if a father is abusive or neglectful then I don't think that the child will want to be friends with their father. Or if the child goes off on some wild tare and seeks to destroy anything and everything the father has worked towards, then the father will have a hard time being friends with his son. But most people, I believe, in time, become friends with their parents, at least to some degree. So why could we not become friends with God? God is not abusive or neglectful and all he asks of us is to love other people. That is the only qualification Jesus gives us.

Does anyone have any other thoughts on this? Can your son or daughter become your friend?