Don’t Teach Finesse

May 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Previously I discussed the dangers of teaching the Bible to children the way we would teach fables, and of the danger of teaching them that the Bible is merely a sounding board for our feelings. Now we will see that we must also beware of the temptation to teach obedience to God as though it was part of a reward system, or a quid pro quo bargaining chip.

This is an especially dangerous teaching method because of the way even adults, through the so-called “health and wealth gospel” or the “Word of Faith” movement, have been seduced into this way of thinking: “I’ll obey You, God, but I need You give me something in return” (good health and money being the two favorites). We see this train of thought subtly insinuated in promises to get blessings for giving, for ministry, even for faithfulness.

The problem is not really in teaching that God blesses, and even honors, faithfulness. The problem is in slapping our definition of “blessing” onto God’s greater and higher definition of blessing. Children who are taught that God is just aching to give them what their flesh craves are susceptible to developing a mentality of “gaming the system” – of trying to bribe or outsmart God.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

I Timothy 6:6-10

A love of money or any material thing (which amounts to the sin of greed) will bring sorrow instead of joy into the hearts of your children. Let’s teach our children that knowing and serving God is a blessing unto itself, and that even poverty and suffering may be counted as true blessings under His promises.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

Luke 6:20-21

Faith in Service

January 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.

Mark 6:1

Jesus returned to “His own country,” meaning Nazareth. It had one been one year since He had been there.

And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

Mark 6:2

Jesus, returning to His home synagogue, was now famous. The people must have known about His miracles through word of mouth, since He had not done them in Nazareth.

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Mark 6:3-6

So, here we find the Servant encountering unbelief – a lack of faith. People “stumbled over Him” – they were scandalized by Him. They knew Him, so they should not have feared Him, but they could not explain Him, so they did fear Him. He didn’t fit into their framework. Sometimes we say that people fear the unknown, but what people really fear is the inexplicable.

In this episode from Mark 6 we also see the difference between today’s fictional version of faith as a mystical force which activates God and somehow “enables” Him to work – to do what WE want Him to do, such as heal us or give us money or get us out of trouble – and real faith.

Remember, in the Book of Mark, we are studying Jesus in the role of Servant. We would expect a servant to serve (and He does), but we would also expect a servant to bring us what we want (and He does not always do this). Jesus is a better Servant – the greatest Servant of all time. So, as He serves us, He brings us what we really NEED – what is BEST for us. Since He is the greatest Servant, He brings the greatest service: forgiveness, freedom, and fulfillment.

Faith is not believing for what we want. Faith is believing that Jesus will bring us what we really need, and it is shown by active belief – acting in accord with Him supplying our needs, not our wants.

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

Mark 6:7-9

Faith Illustrated

April 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 11 is often called “The Faith Chapter” of the Bible, or the “Hall of Faith,” or the “Hall of Fame of Faith” because it lists several “heroes” of the Old Testament, and what they were able to accomplish through their faith in God. However, it also teaches that faith is more than just a feeling and more than mental assent to a Biblical doctrine. Nor is Biblical faith totally totally separate from empirical and rational evidence.

One of the chief reasons we use the Word of God in evangelism is that there is power in the Word. Faith actually comes FROM hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For Christians, the idea of “having faith” should never be separated from “living by faith.” Just as love – for Christians – is more of an action than a feeling, so faith – “saving” faith – is a faith that has the power to work. As we draw near to Christ by faith, we get sent out by faith, and empowered by faith.

We increase our faith by obedience and action, and it is also helpful to spend time with faithful people – to observe and to emulate faithful people. The pages of the Bible are full of people who pleased God through faith, and people who failed God by unbelief. Hebrews Chapter 11 records the success stories.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Hebrews 11:4

Abel gave gifts to God by faith, and was martyred for his faith, but his actions still speak today. He was the first in a long line of God’s people who died for the faith.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Matthew 23:29-35

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

Enoch was a man who grew closer and closer to God, until one day God drew him all the way to Himself in Heaven!

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Hebrews 11:7

Noah guided his family by faith, guided those who were faithful, and condemned the unfaithful world.

The line of faithful men continued with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, who, by faith, kept going toward a city that could only be seen by faith. The visible world they walked through each day was not – they knew – their real home.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Hebrews 11:24-25

Moses forsook a life of ease and pleasure, believing by faith that, no matter how scary the wilderness looked and how long it lasted (40 years), following God was safer than hiding from God.

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Hebrews 11:31

Rahab, a condemned heathen harlot, was grafted into the ancestral line of Christ as an illustration of faith. After reading the Old Testament, we might be surprised at some of the other “heroes of the faith:” Gideon, the frightened farmer; Samson, the macho strongman, whose greatest service to God may have been in his death; Jephthah, impatient and illegitimate, who was used by God even though he wound up sacrificing his own daughter.

There is today a false doctrine out there called the “Word Faith” movement, led by wealthy preachers who say foolish things like, “If it’s in your mouth it’s in your future” and “Don’t keep praying – it shows a lack of faith; if you must pray, just express thanks that it’s already been done, instead of repeating and making supplication.” These false teachers say that the presence of real faith excludes the possibility of suffering. It is an error easily refuted by the Bible:

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Hebrews 11:36-38

Not only the Old Testament patriarchs, but New Testament martyrs as well, have suffered faithfully, without earthly deliverance. I hope you don’t believe that some television preacher with a Lear jet, six Rolls Royces, a tanning bed, and a beauty salon for his wife’s pet poodle has more faith than these wanderers in deserts and caves. These faithful martyrs named eternally in the everlasting page’s of God’s holy Word do not teach us that faith is “speaking forth blessings,” “pleading the blood” over our finances, or “naming and claiming it.” They teach us that faith is believing God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your saving grace. Thank You for making intercession for us before the Father. As You do so, let us draw ever closer and closer to You, and make us more like You today than we were yesterday. Amen.

The Power of Prayer

October 8, 2014 at 10:40 am | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 4 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14 (emphasis added)

The power to do the “greater works” which Jesus promised was conditional. There was a reason for it. “Because I go to My Father.” The power to do the works that Jesus did can – and must – be accessed by prayer. This great truth is conditioned on praying in His name. This means praying according to the authority of His will.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:9

The name of the Lord is more than just an identifier; it is the expression of Who He is and what He has commanded. “In Jesus’s name” must be more than the tag-line or the closing salutation on our prayers. It is a way of asking Jesus to intercede for us before the throne of God, of conforming our will to God’s will. The false belief that we can coerce the Lord into doing our will should not be comforting at all. Such a thought should be horrifying. However, trusting the Lord with my heartfelt desires is extremely reassuring.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m campaigning against the literal meaning of the text in John 14:14. Jesus is not limited in power, and we certainly can ask Him for anything that would not violate Scripture, and even have faith that it will come to pass. What I’m trying to do is guard against what is called “prosperity theology” or sometimes the “prosperity gospel.” According to this false doctrine, God must give us what we want if we name the name of Jesus in our prayers.

Why would preachers teach such a thing when it makes it seem like every cancer ward, orphanage, broken marriage, and even cemetery plot is a monument to unanswered prayer? The answer is that, it is because people don’t spend money without a guarantee. Prosperity preachers are promising material blessings in exchange for money. It’s sort of a baptized Ponzi scheme. And this is their “out” when they can’t produce the results: “You didn’t have enough faith.” So when you give Benny Hinn $1000 and your back is still killing you, it’s not his fault (and it’s obviously not God’s fault). It’s just that you didn’t “mean it” enough when you asked in Jesus’s name. You need to show you “mean it” more by giving another $1000 – or better yet $5000.

I don’t want to be standing near the proponents of this false Gospel at the Great White Throne judgment, because Jesus takes His name very seriously. The power of prayer is attached to Jesus’s name, and Jesus’s name is never disconnected from His will. He is your LORD, not your genie. That’s why John 14:16 seems so out of place if you don’t understand this context.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16

Next time, we will see how John 14:16 leads us into the next subject: the promise of the Paraclete.

I’m Just Sayin’ 10

March 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Posted in I'm Just Sayin' | 5 Comments
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I guess I’m as big a fan of a good Christian cliché as the next fellow, but I’m just sayin’, the theology of some of these trite bumper sticker/coffee mug/Facebook share catchphrases is just awful, and they’re starting to be preached from the pulpit as though they were actually Biblical. “Before you can forgive others, you must first learn to forgive yourself.” Ugh. Puh-leeze. I would expect to see some New Age touchy-feeling Stuart Smalley-type spouting this nonsense, but a professing Christian? You do know you that God alone has the power to forgive sins, right? I’m just sayin’, even the scribes and the Pharisees knew that! You and I have neither the authority nor the ability to “forgive ourselves,” but that’s just one example. I suppose we could overlook some of these dumb expressions (“Let go and let God;” “Christians aren’t perfect, they’re just forgiven”), but it really starts to get old after a while, and the heretical hits just keep on comin’. Here’s the latest that I’ve heard spewed forth from the pulpit as if it were some newly found nugget of wisdom: “Don’t tell God how big your problems are. Tell your problems how big your God is.” Catchy, huh? Someone should embroider a shirt for the family pooch!

https://i1.wp.com/rlv.zcache.com/dont_tell_god_how_big_your_problem_is_dog_shirt-ree55fcdbc5bc4cbfb78e72c0ab0ece5a_v9io0_8byvr_512.jpg

Where to begin..? I guess we all have our moments of confusion, but, I’m just sayin’, your “problems” are not sentient beings, and if you find yourself talking to them, someone might question your sanity. You can tell your “problems” all sorts of things about God ’til you’re blue in the face, but despite what you might have seen on TBN, or heard from Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, or Joel and Victoria Osteen, “words of faith” are not magical messages that force God to eradicate the specific problems to which you are “speaking.”

Furthermore, when did it become a bad idea to tell God all about your problems? Isn’t that what many of the Psalms are about?

[A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.] Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.

Psalm 102:1

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

Psalm 102:7

[Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.] I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.

Psalm 142:1-2

[To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, [A Psalm] of David.] Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.

Psalm 55:1-3

Poor King David. I guess he just wasn’t spiritual enough to shoot a “word of faith” bullet at his problems and make them disappear. He actually cried out his complaints to the Lord. How passé. No wonder he didn’t have any Twitter followers!

I’m just sayin’, are we not commanded to cast our cares upon the Lord, Who cares for us (Psalm 55:22; I Peter 5:7)? Are we not commanded to pray about everything (I Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6)? One of the worst things you could do would be to get into a pointless conversation with your “problems” when Jesus has poured out His life’s blood to purchase access for you and me directly into the throne room of God. Maybe instead of repeating the chorus to “Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary” 16 times in row until the whole congregation feels light-headed, woozy, and susceptible to silly little Christianized self-help bon mots, we could belt out a hearty verse or two of something a little more didactic… say, I don’t know… “What a Friend We Have in Jesus:”

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Joseph M. Scriven

I don’t how Mr. Scriven felt when his fiance’ died right before his wedding (twice!), but I’m sure glad he was willing to tell God all about his problems rather than telling anything to his problems themselves! I’m just sayin’.

Warning Sign #8: Regularly Scheduled Miracles

March 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 11 Comments
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If your pastor is in the transitional phase of crossing over into the “word of faith” or “prosperity gospel” movements, you may want to consider getting him a notebook for his birthday or pastor appreciation day. I know that does not sound like a very special gift, but it can come in really handy. Just make sure it is fairly thick. He’s going need it to be able to write down and keep up with all his different “anointings.”

He will want to write down the dates and times he first received his “preachin’ anointing,” his “speaking-in-tongues anointing,” his “harvest anointing,” his “anointing of increase,” his “anointing of favor,” his “financial anointing,” his “binding and loosing anointing,” his “dreams and visions anointing,” any musical or singing “anointings” he might have received, and many many more. These usually happen during a “vision retreat” where he abandons his family and flock for a few days so he can go somewhere secluded and hear God speak to him audibly in a place where no one else is around to verify it.

Of course, these “lesser anointings” will decrease in importance as he grows in faith. He is really just biding his time until he receives his “healing anointing” and his “miracle-working anointing.” That’s where the real money and fame is, after all. You don’t get much more “anointed” than being able to do a miracle, heal someone from a a disease or injury, or even raise the dead.

When your pastor gets to that level of anointedness, look out. It’s time for him to start regularly scheduling the miracles! If you think I’m exaggerating, think again. Even the Apostle Paul and the 1st Century Christians weren’t this anointed. Oh, sure, they did miracles by the power of God. But even they couldn’t make a “miracle reservation” and invite everybody to come “receive their healing” at an appointed time of their own choosing. Look at what Paul told Timothy:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

I Timothy 5:23

Too bad Benny Hinn wasn’t around back then. (If you type “regularly scheduled miracles” into Google, he is the first name that pops up.) Benny could have pushed Timothy over onstage in front of thousands of spectators and instantly healed his stomach problems without that pesky wine. (Of course, Timothy would have had to pay to park, wait in a long line at a big event center, dodge the numerous offering baskets, and sit through two-plus hours of droning repetitive trance-inducing “praise and worship music.”)

Or how about these poor believers, who suffered not because they didn’t speak the right “words of faith,” but because they did speak faithfully:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

Hebrews 11:37

Too bad they couldn’t have held on a little longer until the next “weekend of miracles” so a greedy “anointed” faith healer could lay hands on them and convince them that there is guaranteed physical healing in the Atonement.

Does God work miracles today? Without a doubt. Is he doing them at regularly scheduled pre-planned events calculated to bring glory and riches to men? Not likely. If your pastor is getting into this sort of thing, lovingly offer him a ride to the nearest critical care unit, pediatric cancer ward, or severe burn treatment center, so he can really put his “anointing” to use free of charge. Or better yet, take him to the morgue. If he can slap your Aunt Boo-Boo upside the head and heal her ingrown toenail, surely it’s only a difference in degree between that “miracle” and raising the dead. Right?

Warning Sign #7: Playing Politics

July 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 5 Comments
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Let’s just pretend for a moment that you are the pastor/preacher at a fairly conservative Baptist church. One day, though, you decide you have had enough. Things are getting too boring around here, just trying to obey God’s Word. You have seen something better: the wild, exciting worship that takes place on TBN. You have seen the material wealth and fame of the “Word Faith” preachers, and the size of their congregations, and especially the showy display of their gaudy buildings. Something clicks in your brain, (which you will later claim was a “rhema word from the Holy Ghost”) and you realize that you are never going to be as rich, exciting, or renowned as those TV preachers unless you play down the “Baptist” aspects of your ministry and play up the so-called “Charismatic” or “Pentecostal” features which are part of the background of most of the famous prosperity preachers.

These would be your two main problems:

1. Traditional Baptist theology does not focus primarily on the so-called “sign gifts” of tongues, prophecy, and supernatural healings, but these are the bread-and-butter of Charismatic and Pentecostal fundraising.

2. To attract Pentecostals and most Charismatics to see your show, you are going to have to convince them that, although you have been a Baptist, and have preached that salvation is of the Lord, and that once God makes you a new creation in Christ Jesus you are eternally secure, you also somehow believe that you can lose “your” salvation.

How in the world are you going to convince your congregation that you are “going Pentecostal” without looking like a traitor to your former beliefs?

Here’s how: you are going to have to be “political.” Start telling people that you are “too Baptist to be Pentecostal and too Pentecostal to be Baptist,” and that some Baptists were mean to you one time, and didn’t want you to act too freaky in church. This hurt your feelings, but now you realize that they were just being too “by the Book,” and you were trying to “get free in the Holy Spirit!” Of course, you will have to use a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot of doublespeak.

You will also have to be prepared to look extremely foolish at times: Case in point – in order to avoid the phrase, “once saved always saved” (which most Pentecostals absolutely hate), try referring to “The Gospel According To Jesus,” by John MacArthur. A good politician can use the “Lordship Salvation” teaching of this book to disarm most Pentecostals. Tell them that if you are not “crowning Jesus Lord,” every moment of every day, then you are not “saved.” This should appease them. They will interpret this to mean that you think folks can lose their salvation by sinning. Beware however: a more astute Pentecostal may do a little research and find out that MacArthur also wrote a book called “Charismatic Chaos,” and is perhaps the staunchest “cessationist” around today. [Uh-oh, now you will have to explain how you think MacArthur is right on one point, but is teaching a “lie from the pit of hell” (cessationism) on another point.]

That could be tricky, but it’s all in a week’s work for a Good Preacher Going Bad. Just keep them emotionally charged up with lights, smoke, discordant “worship” music, sowing seeds of faith (a.k.a. giving money), and claimed “healings” (which are supernatural even though they might take a while to “manifest” [wink, wink.]) As a prosperity-preacher-in-the-making, you will be very close at this point to “seeing a move of God” as the “fire falls” and the “latter rain” breaks out “in this place.”

Warning Sign #6: Visualization Techniques

July 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 10 Comments
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The false teaching of the prosperity gospel is partly about greed. Therefore, if you expect the prosperity preacher to talk about “claiming” and “grabbing” and “seizing” you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s good health, popularity with the world, or just plain old filthy lucre, though, the prosperity preacher knows one thing:

You have to see it before you reach it!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Speaking “words of faith” are all well and good. But if you’ve been speaking to your checkbook, your doctor’s appointment book, and your Facebook for a long time, and you still don’t have as many dollars, healings, or shallow friends as you would like – it just may be that you are not “visualizing” hard enough!

I have heard visualizing techniques attributed to all sorts of Biblical characters – from Abraham to Jabez to David to Zacchaeus. To be fair, Zacchaeus did seem to be a little (no pun intended) bit of a visualizer.

“See there!” says the prosperity preacher, “The Bible does teach that we are supposed to see what we want, and then reach for it!”

Not so fast. Zacchaeus had a desire to see, alright – but a desire to see what… or should I say Whom?

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Luke 19:3, emphasis added

Despite what the prosperity teacher tells you, remember: Our help comes from seeing Jesus – not the personal comforts we can concoct in our own imaginations.

So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:19, emphasis added

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

John 12:21, emphasis added

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added

Warning Sign #5: Naming Pet Demons

June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 6 Comments
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The idea that our loving Lord could allow something “bad” like poverty or sickness or persecution into the life a Christian is especially abhorrent to a prosperity preacher. But railing against politicians, doctors, and “dead religious Pharisees” can only get you so far. When you really want to drive your congregation into a frenzy and get them hyped up into a display of emotionalism, you’ve got to portray yourself as a big bad demon-fighter. And what “spiritual warrior” worth his salt isn’t even on a first name basis with his enemies?

Therefore, beware of this kind of blustering and showmanship:

I call you out, Spirit of Jezebel! I’m gonna send you back to the pit, Spirit of Leviathan! We hate you, Spirit of Wormwood!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Now, I know what you’re thinking: These names – Jezebel, Leviathan, and Wormwood – are in the Bible (Revelation 2:20; Isaiah 27:1; Deuteronomy 29:18, Revelation 8:11). However, nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that these are the names of specific demons that today attack our finances, our relationships, our physical bodies, or our desire for exuberant worship. That type of preaching is fanciful at best and misleading at worst.

However, don’t try to tell this to the demon-fighting prosperity preacher! He’s already on to your type. You are one of those who has a “spirit of fear” or a “spirit of intimidation.” After all, God hasn’t given us the “spirit of fear,” according to II Timothy 1:7. This is the “you-are-just-scared-of-a-move-of-the-Holy-Ghost” card that the prosperity preacher loves to play when questioned about Biblical accuracy. Please note however that the rest of II Timothy 1:7 reads, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” so the “spirit of fear” is not the name of some devilish imp lurking around underneath the discarded hymn books. It is simply the carnal default position of our flesh nature when we are not being led by – and bearing the fruit of – the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, when Michal got huffy about David’s public display of dancing (II Samuel 6), there is no Bible verse that says she was possessed by the “Spirit of Intimidation.”

Beware of the preacher who is more comfortable railing against principalities and powers than he is dealing with sin in the camp and in his own life.

Warning Sign #4: Fear of Curses

June 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 5 Comments
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“I don’t know about you, but I for one ain’t a-gonna stay in Lodebar no more!” crows the frantic, sweaty, and haunted prosperity preacher. His reference, although you would be hard-pressed to tell it, is actually from the Bible – sort of:

Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

II Samuel 9:5-7

One of the greatest fears of a prosperity preacher is that he will wind up in some obscure place of poverty, far away from the limelight, while others are feasting at the king’s table without him. Having watched a little too much TBN, he is desperate to get out of the sticks and into the inner circle of health, wealth, greed, and fame.

See, Mephibosheth, the lame son of King David’s late best friend, Jonathan, was dwelling in Lodebar, a place of “no pasture.” The prosperity preacher sees this as a “cursed” place. No one drives fancy vehicles or lives in mansions or performs at stadiums full of slavering fans at “Lodebar.” It is a place of anonymity. What the prosperity preacher fails to see is that Mephibosheth was brought to the palace of the king not because he discovered the mystical incantation which broke the “generational curse.” It was actually because David, the foreshadowing type of the greater Christ, took pity on Mephibosheth for the sake of his father, Jonathan, and decided to show him grace.

The curse we need to be most concerned about today is not the “curse” of poverty or of physical disability or of obscurity in this world. The real curse is the sin curse. The reversal of that curse comes only through the saving power of King Jesus, who seeks lost sinners, adopts them into His family, and will one day seat them at the table of His presence forever more!

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