Thursday, July 30, 2009
Practically everyday, I am still thanking God I am away from there. Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Greg Surratt the Senior Pastor of Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC. He said something in his sermon that I can not put any more eloquently so I will quote him. "The only person getting rich in a prosperity church is the one preaching prosperity." Hey look at that, I am different from my former pastor; he would have just ripped that quote off and not had any guilt over it.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
But unfortunately this is what I was taught at my church growing up. And this is an incredibly dangerous thing. Children were taught that the most important thing in their Christian walk is what they can get God to do for them. Children were taught that the most important thing is faith... they begin to have faith in faith, not God.
Do not allow your child to grow up in a church like this. A church like this will pollute you as an adult... think about how it pollutes the still forming mind of a child.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
He set into motion all of the natural laws... Gravity, friction, aerodynamics, erosion, and so on.
He created time.
And yet he formed man. Breathed life into him. Fellowshipped with this man. And when this man messed things up, God began to work to restore man to a place of fellowship with Him. You get that? YAHWEH wants to spend time with us.
He cares for us more than we can know. He made the Grand Canyon but He loves us. He made the sea shore but he wants to be with us. The Alps are beautiful but we are his favorite creation. The stars may help to light up our night, but when God spends time with us it excites Him.
This relationship with God should never be cheapened to an act. All of the philanthropy in the world can't take the place of spending time with God. He loves US. He doesn't love what we do for Him. He already gave of Himself to save us. Just because we don't give some money in this service or because we didn't volunteer for yet another area to work in the church, does not mean that God won't bless us. I have a 2 year old daughter. Do you think for a moment that I would not think of some way that I could totally make her day just because she didn't clean up all of her crayons. How much more is God going to be thinking about how to take care of us. The God of the universe loves me and he doesn't care about the three crayons I didn't pick up behind the easel.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Since I have been away from MFC, I have not heard one single minister smear a congregant. I have heard ministers talk about how they have themselves have done things to embarrass themselves. But never, talking about someone sitting in the pews. At My Former Church, this happened on numerous occasions. One such occasion has always stuck with me, because of how vile of an attack the pastor gave. The pastor began to berate and belittle an individual who had just passed away. This was all from the pulpit. To make it more shocking, it was a staff member of the church, who was well liked. If he didn't like the person, he should have fired them long ago. But that wasn't it at all. They were an asset to him alive, but dead they were a liability. When a person dies of cancer in a church that the pastor "declares" a "cancer free" church, well it hurts his credibility.
This so-called pastor did not and, sadly, does not love and respect those around him. Rather, he uses people and when they are not convenient, he rolls them under the bus. This is not a sign of a true pastor. That man is a bully not a pastor. If a pastor begins to show this kind of sign, leave. Never look back, just leave. A pastor should never talk down to or bad about the people that sit in the congregation, especially from the pulpit.
I have an earlier post called "More Questions" where I reference the pastor stopping a service to talk down to some youth. This sort of behavior does not build up the congregation. It does, however, put fear into them. It begins to make people scared of what they have said to the pastor in counselling sessions or to go to the pastor for counsel. Nothing is sacred when a minister wants to humiliate you from the pulpit.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The preachers who preach this message often work their best to live a very affluent lifestyle that will help to inspire others to give to them. People tend to look up to them because of the money that they throw around. The Bible warns about following after money, and Dooley gives several examples early in his article: Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, Luke 12:15 and Luke 6:20-21, 24-25, 30.
When Jesus was living as a man on this planet, did He live like a wealthy king? Did the forerunner John-the-baptizer live like a wealthy king? Did any of the founding apostolic-prophetic leaders of the Church live like a wealthy king? Oh, please listen! Some well-intentioned Charismatics express at this time, "I’m a child of the King, so I’m going to live like a prince (or princess)!" It is hard to defend Biblically this concept of a "nice God who is our ‘buddy’ and onlyprospers us" that is percolating through much of contemporary theology.
As Dooley points out, Jesus was an itinerant prophet-teacher without a home of his own. There were occasions when women who travelled with him met his financial needs. But let's not forget about John-the-baptizer in all of this. According to Matthew 3:4 "John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey." Yeah, a real affluent guy there.
I have referred to the apostles in a previous post, they definitely did not live like kings. They had a compelling call to get the gospel out to the world, so they scattered and they all were tortured and beaten. Most of them were killed for the Gospel. How does being a sojourning martyr measure up to living like a prince?
Dooley mentions that there is wisdom in asking God to meet our needs. As a father, I couldn't help but to think of my toddler who doesn't really understand the difference between "need" and "want". She tells me that she NEEDS a cookie or to watch TV. Have we as Christians become so very immature that we do not understand the difference between our needs and wants anymore? Have we forgotten the Lord's prayer? Have we forgotten how God took care of the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years? If you think about the fact that they had riches as they left, remember the fact that they were slaves for hundreds of years, God just finally got them just compensation for their labor. Remember the early church took care of each other's needs. People sold land to cover the needs of others. This wasn't putting up your mortgage to be surety on a fancy multi-million dollar structure. This was covering the gospel being preached and basic human needs of people.
I like to remind myself that the really valuable things in life are Faith, Family, and Friends. The Creator’s blessings of prosperity are not measured primarily by wealth, although wealth can be one of the components of His blessings. If we judge by our natural eyes coupled to our greedy minds, we can be easily deceived. Many in the West live under the illusion of blessing, simply because they happen to live in affluence. But, it is a veneer! "You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." (Revelation 3:17-19). The church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3 epitomizes our current Western worldview that elevates affluence. We are to obtain spiritual "gold refined by fire", meaning that which is virtuous and of eternal value. We are to obtain spiritual "white clothing", meaning that which is pure, forgiven, and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. And, we are to apply spiritual "eye salve" so as to have the "eyes of our hearts" healed to correctly
see the truth rather than deception or the illusion of blessing. It is my observation that few living in the West have this insight at present. Therefore, Revelation 3 says we need to be earnest and to repent. Our priorities must change!
Dooley reminds us of how Christians in other countries across the world are suffering for Jesus Christ. People have lost everything and yet God is prospering them. How can a person be prosperous and in poverty? Dooley says, "Prosperity that comes from God should not be viewed mono-dimensionally as: prosperity = financial blessings. Let’s not be short sighted in understanding the breadth of the meaning of Biblical prosperity. "
I had to chuckle as I read, "What a shame if we’re following Him just because we want Jesus to hand us a microphone, or a large bank account, or an annual ministry budget in the millions, or a Rolls Royce car, or a mansion on the lake, or a book contract, or our own television station. " Because I can just see some Prosperity Gospel preacher saying these days "Do you need a spiritual bailout? Give me a seed offering and watch God give you that bailout of a hundred-fold." Anyone notice that with those preachers it always seems that the offering you give them will ALWAYS return one hundred-fold. They always go for the top number, because they hope to fool more people with a bigger blessing. Let me remind you that Paul turned down an offering from the Corinthians because he did not want to give any kind of appearance that he was peddling the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It should be noted that the principles of return-on-investment for the seed-of-faith sown each have a legitimate Biblical basis. It can be supported by Scripture, but only as principles. However, they are not assured specific promises for a specific circumstance. Often the anticipated rewards are not realized by the "seed" donors. They think unwisely in advance, "I’ll give this seed to the man-of-God, and I expect to receive that reward from God." This can be a disheartening reality. It can produce disappointments, because it is built on a faulty foundation. Biblical principles are not guarantees of a particular outcome for an individual in a particular circumstance. They are general patterns, not specific assurances or insurance policies. This errant thinking can and does destroy hope, because the hope was in the wrong person, place, or thing.
Dooley reminds us that now is the time to act. We as Christians must stand up for "the Whole Counsel of the Lord". If we do not, then the secular public arena will. When the Senate investigates these ministries, it makes ALL Christians look bad. When their families expose themselves to undercover officers it makes ALL Christians look bad. We must take care of this ourselves. Nobody said it would be easy, and nobody said we can end this blight today. But we must pray that God would open the eyes of people who are in these churches. We must pray that God would turn the hearts of these "ministers". We must try to reach out in love to those trapped in these churches. We can make a difference one day at a time, one person at a time. Most people will not respond right away, but we must continue to pray for them. These churches are very cult-like in nature, so it takes time to break through the brainwashing. When you leave a church like this, be vocal about why you are leaving. Preach the errors from the rooftops. Do whatever you can to help others avoid the trap of following these so-called "men-of-God".
Dooley encourages us to search out effective and efficient ministries to give to. Just please stop feeding the beast of the prosperity preachers.
All quotes were used with the authors permission. Tom Dooley also told me that this article is a chapter in his upcoming book
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tonight I read that and, WOW! How awesome would that conversation have been. Here are these 2 guys that are obviously upset about how things they put their faith into didn't go the way they had expected. A fellow traveler meets up with them and asks what they are talking about. So they tell him. Then Jesus begins to go over all the scriptures that dealt with the Messiah starting with Moses.
Have you ever had someone to start counselling you about something that has you down? I have. When someone stops and talks to you, personally, about something that is bothering you. And they show you things in the scriptures (which you may or may not have already heard or known.), your heart just seems to burn. It can be the most uplifting of times. How wonderful it must have been to have had such an uplifting conversation about Jesus and his fulfillment of prophecy just days after his crucifixion, just to find out that it was Jesus resurrected that they were being uplifted by.
And on that note, how awesome is it to read God's Word and be uplifted by it?
Friday, January 16, 2009
For a lot of people these are hopeless times. The economy is down, unemployment is up, the price of most things are up, and there is always the most depressing things on the news. But our hope is not in the economy, jobs, houses, or Barack Obama. Our hope is in Christ Jesus and the resurrection to life with God in heaven.
So my vision for this year is that, with God's help, my heart would soften to those in need.
My vision is that this year I would decrease and Christ increase in my life.
What's your vision?