Friday, May 30, 2014

Making merchandise of God

Let me say upfront that I have no problem with a preacher/pastor making a living. Paul said not to muzzle the ox that was treading out the grain. If someone is involved in ministry doing God's work they should be supported in a decent manner. I do take issue with "preachers" who live in gated communities and drive a Rolls Royce or Bentley with a personal chauffeur while living in multi-million dollar homes in said gated community. Sadly I believe too many see that as the face of Christianity and want nothing to do with it. If the only familiarity I had with Christianity was some guy on TV in a designer suit driving a Bentley while living in a multi-million dollar home, I might be turned off, too.

Several years back I got subscribed to Jimmy Swaggart's magazine somehow. Look, people make mistakes and they struggle. Even King David had an affair and murdered Uriah, the wife of Bathsheba. I don't hold what he did in the 1980's against him as it's water under the bridge. If he's repented, God has forgiven. I simply inquired about whether or not his old LP's were available on CD. I love his music from the 70's up until about the early 80's. Somehow they got my address and I started receiving his magazine.

I read them each month when they came in even if I didn't agree wholeheartedly with his personal views on a few things. What really got me was he kept offering his "Expositor's Study Bible" and saying God wanted that in the hands of EVERY Christian and it could be yours for a love offering of $75! I'm not about to pay $75 for anyone's study Bible when I can get multiple versions free on my tablet and I more than likely can find commentary online or in other books. This led me to write the ministry a letter via e-mail.

I suggested to Jimmy (or whomever actually reads their correspondence) that they were doing Christians a great disservice with their $75 asking fee. I once heard a radio minister say he had a book that he felt every Christian should read and while a love offering would be nice, it wasn't required to get the book. If you called he would send you the book free of charge and he would trust God to meet the expenses of printing the book and postage, etc. I suggested to the Jimmy Swaggart ministry that perhaps they should adopt the same philosophy and even went to the extent of asking what about the "little widow lady" who lived on a fixed income. No response.

The next month rolled around. Same send Jimmy $75 and he'll give you the Bible. I repeated my same e-mail again and suggested this time if they didn't intend to give me a reply to please remove me from their mailing list. That got someone's attention as I've never received another piece of correspondence from the Jimmy Swaggart ministry since then.

This morning a friend on Facebook posted "prophecy" from a fella named Doug Addison. I've never heard of him but the "prophecy" looked to be the typical cookie cutter "God's gonna do something big for you" that would fit anyone and their brother. I decided to peruse Mr. Addison's website and see what it contained.

I found out that Mr. Addison can interpret dreams and is a life coach. There wasn't any mission statement attempting to bring people to Christ that I saw. It was all about him and that God gave him the ability to interpret dreams back in the 1990's and he could teach you to interpret dreams as well. I'm sure, naturally of course, he's not going to teach you for free. As a matter of fact he was attempting to sell a book to those who were interested about dreams.

Here's where I take issue. We find NO ONE in the Bible or in church history that was "taught" to interpret dreams. Joseph in the Old Testament had the ability to interpret dreams. When Pharaoh had his ominous dreams and the wise men and magicians of Egypt couldn't interpret them, Joseph didn't offer to "teach" them how. No, he got down to God's business and gave Pharaoh the interpretation of his dreams. The same thing with Daniel many years later; he didn't offer to teach anyone how to discern dreams, he got down to business with Nebuchadnezzar.

I believe that God does give dreams. I believe he's the same yesterday, today and forever. If He chose to do it in the Old Testament he can still give dreams today. However, God isn't into cheapening any gifts He has to give. Just as we only find a handful of these instances in the Bible, it's still quite a selective process I'm sure. While perusing Mr. Addison's site, I found him "interpreting" dreams en masse saying what various dreams meant. If you dreamed you were falling it meant this or that. If you dreamed of being late for an appointment or a job it meant to be on the lookout and don't be late for what God is going to give you. I saw people posting pitifully asking what this dream or that dream meant. Of course I'm sure you'll have to buy his book or take his course in teaching people how to interpret their dreams.

In the New Testament we find that Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple for selling to people right in God's house. I wonder what He would have to say if He were walking among us today?

This is in no way an indictment against all pastors or preachers. Again, a pastor or preacher has to make a living. Not a killing but a living. Our pastor and his wife live in a very small house living off what little the church can afford, her retirement and his income from a full time job. I wonder if perhaps these high-roller preachers could be convinced to help out someone who's truly doing God's work? Probably not.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Don't ignore what God has put in front of you

Years ago, I heard the famous Jerry Clower tell a story, one that might relate to OUR lives.

A guy was caught in a flood. Things got so bad he had to climb on to his roof to escape drowning. He begged God to save him.

Shortly thereafter, a boat came by and offered him a ride. He replied that he was waiting on God and wouldn't accept a ride because God was going to save him.

The waters continued to rise and he got more earnest with God about wanting to be saved from drowning. A helicopter came by and offered him a ride. The reply was the same-God would save him!

Finally, the waters reached to a point he was about to go under and as he begged God again to save him from drowning, another boat came by. Nope, God's gonna save him!

The man drowned and went to Heaven. When he met God, he asked Him why He allowed him to drown. God replied, "you dummy! I sent you two boats and a helicopter!!!"

How many times do we do this in our lives? Because God didn't work the way WE wanted Him to do we turn down a blessing. Wouldn't it be a shame if we came to the end of our days and found out we had left multiple blessings on the table because we didn't think they looked the way we thought they should?