Isa. 10:1-2 π Zech. 11:11 π Mt. 25:40 π Mt. 25:45 π Jn. 12:8 π 2 Cor. 7:1 π Eph. 5:27 π Phlp. 2:15-16 π 2 Ths. 2:12 π Jas. 1:9 π Jas. 2:5 π 1 Jn. 5:19
Recently a false prophet (please bear in mind that his being a false prophet does not necessarily preclude all possibility of his being right at some particular point(s) in what he said - even a broken clock is right twice a day), when I asked him and a half dozen other men for spiritual advice and counsel (this was the process by which I discovered him to be a false prophet) regarding a difficult personal situation that included financial aspects, snidely quipped that since I didn't want to come under his leadership (headship) and submit blindly to him, I could "just keep on begging for money and see how that worked for me.
1) I live in a land and season where mega-"church" "pastors," "apostles," "prophets," televangelists, etc. are literally millionaires. Anyone with eloquence and an ability to convince a crowd that he's a "man of God" (whether he actually is one or not is immaterial), has found a lucrative game to play. These can literally "beg for money" (in their eloquent and deceptive techniques) and rake in the bucks so as to live an extravagant lifestyle that "proves" they are living according to God's will. So, while it's "wrong" for me to "beg for money" (which I was not doing), it's "okay" for the big name boys to "beg for money" (which is what they do, whether done overtly or "subliminally"). Contradictions abound when doublespeak is the language of the day.
2) I live in a land and season where "poverty itself is regarded as the ultimate indecency." (Edgar Friedenberg, Coming of Age in America, 1965, p. 171) and the prosperity "gospel" is a multi-million dollar a year industry. Steve Taylor (not the Christian music artist), a man personally experienced in and with homelessness, wrote, "Despite what anyone tells you, it is not illegal, immoral or unethical to be poor. Every religious and spiritual tradition throughout history has required, or at least revered, vows of poverty, fasts, wanderings through wildernesses, etc. Yet in American society, some of our most insidious and vicious prejudices are directed at those who have less than we do or are less privileged that we are. Class bigotry is an invisible barrier..." ("A Step Away From Homelessness," Albuquerque Tribune, 11/28/02) Jesus told His disciples, "The poor you have with you always..." ( Jn. 12:8 ) and "Whatever you did - or did not do - to one of the least (poorest, most "insignificant") of these My brothers, you did - or did not do - to Me." ( Mt. 25:40 , 45 ) James goes so far as to say, "The brother in humble [impoverished] circumstances ought to take pride in his high position [in Christ's kingdom]." ( Jas. 1:9 , also see 2:5 ) God not only clearly includes the poor among His people ( Isa. 10:1-2 ) and His flock ( Zech. 11:11 ), He clearly gives them a place of prominence and special privilege. That mainstream Americana looks differently upon the poor than does God is obvious even from these few quotes. That much of popular "Christianity" views poverty in much the same way as does the world (who is under the influence of the evil one - 1 Jn. 5:19; top ) ought to tell us a great deal about the true nature of churchianity.
3) One of every democratic society's greatest problems is how to deal with individuals of special competence. At no point does a bureaucratic society (which utilizes its institutions, even and especially the "church," to minimize its exposure to special competence) face a greater danger than from the spiritual realms.
"...a praying Christian is a constant threat to the stability of Satan's government. The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come. Who knows when another Elijah will arise, or another Daniel? Or a Luther or a Booth? Who knows when an Edwards or a Finney may go in and liberate a whole town or countryside by the preaching of the Word and prayer? Such a danger is too great to tolerate, so Satan gets to the new convert as early as possible to prevent his becoming too formidable a foe." (A.W. Tozer, "The Christian Life Is Not Easy," That Incredible Christian, 1964, p. 71)
In recognizing poverty's ability to keep buried the special competence bureaucratic society both needs and fears, Friedenberg writes of this dual problem, "On the one hand, [bureaucratic society] must search for talent in its lower reaches and try to prevent its Miltons from remaining, mute and inglorious, among the poor. On the other hand, it must make sure that they remain like Milton, safely on the side of Cromwell and unpretentious. There is always danger that they may come to find Charles I more dignified, and Charles II more humane, and this is a danger..." (Coming of Age in America, p. 180) This process of keeping Milton loyal to Cromwell is clearly practiced in denominational and mega-"church" circles as only sycophants to the denomination or "pastor" are promoted or recognized as permitted to speak or lead. A New Testament prophet, for example, called and fully equipped by God, is most often completely unwelcome at most "churches" and opposed by most "pastors." In "church," the spiritual Miltons not only are not recognized nor raised up, they must be destroyed and driven off.
4) A week or so before I wrote this article, I received a forwarded email from a guy promoting his new study in the "Lord's Prayer." In that email, he was careful to mention how he's being sponsored in his "research" by some organization and how I (and everyone else who received this email) could go to their website to make a donation. Similarly, in a book the Lord recently placed in my path, the author of this secular book credited two foundations who had supported him and his work over the years. But if I try to even just talk straightforwardly with some people about some of my difficulties in trying to write and publish what the Lord is showing me while simultaneously continuing to "make ends meet" for my family in this failing economy, I'm "begging for money."
In American circles, one tends to lose friends quickly by even bringing up these subjects. To even suggest that God might lead someone to take up a vow of poverty, for example, so goes against the mammonized American sensibilities that the one making such a suggestion must be crazy, one to be avoided. But who really has the problem here?
Where am I going with all this? I'm fishing for wisdom here, not funds. Sure funds might help ease some immediate pressures but they don't solve (or even address!) the long term questions I'm pondering and raising. For the record, if God leads you to give toward my work, great - if not, great. That's between you and Him - leave me and my personal involvement out of that discussion and equation! I'm not even really interested in trying to find those bureaucracies and organizations who support the kind of work I do - God has always seen to it that I and my family have had enough (though His definition of "enough" and my definition, and certainly Americana's definition, have at times been quite different). I'm just seeing the vast resources given to false teachers and false leaders and seeing the scarcity and sparseness inflicted on those who quietly and simply preach, write and publish the truth as the Lord shows it to them and wondering at how great a disobedience must be practiced in order for this condition to be so prevalent around the world.
And - as far as the focus of this article - I'm not even sure that I know what all the questions really are. I only know that some of our Americanisms are in direct conflict with God's way and that where He has led me has brought me into some stark, frank recognitions of that discrepancy. Anyone who holds onto their Americanisms which are in conflict with His way must choose whether to continue to take pleasure in their unrighteousness ( 2 Ths. 2:12 ) or to purify themselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit ( 2 Cor. 7:1 ) so as to truly be the bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle or blemish ( Eph. 5:27 ), "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..." ( Phlp. 2:15-16; top )
Read between the lines if you will (I really didn't write anything there) and feel free, as did the false prophet mentioned above, to operate in the gift of presumption and to cooperate in the devil's work by accusing me of all manner of sin and error. Writing such an article as this almost guarantees that some "good Christians" will respond in this way. But better yet - humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him, "Lord, is it I?" If you will but do this, you may be able to fill in any missing bits of wisdom my brief, rambling introduction to this huge category has left unspoken.
Let he who has ears hear.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!