Posts tagged ‘Prosperity Preachers’

January 11, 2008

MORE ON THE GRASSLEY 6: BITTER, But Over Prosperity Teachings?

by MullOverThis

Someone sent me the following article a few weeks ago.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/12/27/prosperity.preachers.ap/index.html?iref=newssearch

Before we delve into the crux of the article, three true stories come to mind.  First, I remember years ago when the HSN first came on television and it was so unconventional to have round-the-clock shopping, and without leaving home. From the convenience of a family room, I clicked the remote control for a console 25 inch television and ordered my first gold link bracelet for $108 dollars.  It was  8 inches in length and 14kt Italian gold.  When I received the bracelet delivered to my front door, I was so excited.  I opened the packaging and thought it was a prank. The bracelet was so tiny, I was livid.  The bracelet was precisely what the network advertised, I just didn’t pay attention to the weight and the width of the bracelet.  There really was no bargain at all and I learned a crucial lesson:  pay attention to detail and some consumptions are best made in person where I can inspect the product.

Second, last year an on-line news journal headlined a NJ family who lost their home because the bank foreclosed on the property. After dancing through an illustrious tale of re-finance after re-finance and the increasing inability to pay the note and living off of the equity in the home, the family had to deal with the embarrassing reality of losing their suburban life.  The slant on the article was to capture a look at the ills of the sub-prime mortgage industry.  So an unethical broker who kept urging them to re-finance became the scapegoat.  The homeowners talked about the pressure they were under to keep re-financing.  The truth is they had thousands of dollars in consumer debt, did renovations and improvements that they could not afford, and paid maintenance bills with proceeds from re-financing, while having more children.  They made horrible choices living beyond their means, and wanted to blame the broker and the bank for making them sign hundreds of signatures, over and over again.  This is a prime example of bad habits and the blame game.

Third, there was a single mother in her late twenties who owned her own business and missed a couple of months in her apartment rent payments.  One day she went to church and the pastor made the statement, “you ought to live where you pay rent” (this was in reference to young men should pay their bills and be stable in their decisions, then God will allow them to be stewards over more, and become homeowners).  A number of months later, I drove this young lady and her child home, and she asked me to drop her at her place of business.  I told her I would wait to take her home, because it was extremely late and in a questionable neighborhood.  She explained that she moved into her place of business with her child, because God spoke to her through the same statement the pastor made months before, which she took completely out of context.  Since she did not make her apartment rent payments and kept the business lease payments up to date, God, in her mind, was speaking to her situation.  She made a major life decision and credited the pastor for giving her those asinine directives.  This woman who was responsible for the life of another human being, heard what she wanted to hear.

So when I read this article, I realized that there has to be some sob stories to make these televangelists be the super rich preying on the innocent poor as they’ve been dubbed.  Again, it is difficult to forgo common sense to end up putting these televangelists on the dartboard and piercing their images with each dart that hits the bulls-eye. 

Now, Ms. Bitter over Prosperity Preachings is an accountant who gave a substantial amount of money to the three televangelist ministries, and ended up borrowing money for food from her friends and using payday loans to survive when the blessings she was looking for did not come.  Accountant and payday loans do not work in the same equation unless there is a ‘”not equal to” sign involved.  Although we don’t have the full story, there has to be some fiscal insanity irrespective of any wooing these televangelists could have done to get this poor woman’s money.  As a member of the finance community, she would have been better off going to file an emergency claim with a social service agency, an  independent Charity, or knocking on a church door for some help.

According to the AP, Ms. Fleenor, the “victim” said, “I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them…I’m angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don’t watch anyone on TV hardly.”  What was Ms. Fleenor’s perception of what God was doing with the televangelists?  They wrote checks to God and woke up a few weeks, months, even three years later and “blew up”?  That she would give to God and take the time, dedication, and diligence to build the families, churches, communities and works as the have? None of those ministries she contributed to, or any who are under the microscopic eye of Senator Grassley and his committee, are people who got Rolls Royces, private jets, mansions, face-lifts, image consultants, or millions of viewers overnight.  All of these ministries were built over at least fifteen plus years of  faithfulness to ministry.  What was God doing in them? He was and is prospering them for obeying the principles of the Word of God that do not gravitate towards a personality.  They work according to our faith, but faith without works is dead.  In other words, we must put our faith in action.  That does not simply mean to write a check because I want God to give me X or make me like Y. God is not a genie or Santa Claus. We all have our own paths in life.

Just to begin to tackle some of the principles in giving and receiving, the Kingdom of God pretty much works like the laws of agriculture.  In order to get a harvest, a farmer must have seeds and plant them.  This takes work to prepare the ground so that it is good and involves pruning, watering and oversight. When a harvest comes, a farmer does not give all of his harvest away. If he does, he will not eat, or cry after getting payday loans.  He must preserve some for his own table, and plant seed into his own ground again  so that he will produce a harvest in due season.  Next, a farmer may desire a harvest in crops that he does not plant.  He may sow, or exchange goods into another farmer’s land, and WHEN there is a harvest in another farmer’s crops, expect a return–not when they get tired of waiting.  One of the number one mistakes entrepreneurs make is they give up right before the new business turns a profit. One reaps what one sows.  This principle cannot be limited to giving, but certainly applies here. 

The article further purports, “The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor’s living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.”  That’s funny, because I have never gotten this message in isolation flickering into my television night after night. And I don’t suffer from the requisite delusions or paranoia to believe that “the man” or the televangelist division of the  FBI superimposes my television programming with Creflo, Copeland, Meyer, White, and Long teaching, or Ms. Fleenor’s with “give me money and you’ll get or become whatever is running through your mind when you think it should get to your front door”.  Nor do I believe they strategize to be aired in poverty-stricken markets so they can get money.  This thinking presumes that poor people are idiots, and fails to take into account that poor people are the ones WITHOUT MONEY to make greedy fat cats richer.  Everybody needs the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom and how to live as God intended his children to until Jesus comes again.

Now, we have no way of knowing what this message Ms. Fleenor received meant to her. But principles of multiplication and productivity (what people are calling prosperity gospel) are based upon what our priorities are (seek ye first the Kingdom of God), our faith,  our faithfulness as good stewards over finances (in paying bills, paying them on time, owing no man [not having debt], no usury, no unjust weights and balances, no unjust motives or practices), and, our stewardship over all things pertaining to life and ministry (our families, properties, businesses, education, works for the Kingdom of God). 

At least five of these ministries under fire teach extensively about the Kingdom of God and giving. They would all be well-advised to start using more of this teaching when making on-air requests for partners and offerings to defray duplicitous branding, because there are the “Ms. Fleenors” out there watching.  This situation is also a textbook case for the need for all believers to have a local church home. No one should be sitting at home waiting for some overnight fix to issues we’ve worked lifetimes getting ourselves into–in many circumstances–through writing a check.  If we do donate, it should be to perpetuate the works the ministries are doing all over the world while we WAIT PATIENTLY on God to bless us for meeting the needs of the Kingdom of God, LIVING AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS. 

Now it would not make sense to watch a weight loss program, buy the product, eat the food according to plan, work out, and then get mad at the weight loss company because your waist is expanding instead of shrinking.  If you know you have a fibroid tumor but didn’t know the diet food is what makes fibroids grow, your weight loss program is not going to give you the visual benefits you might expect until you get rid of the fibroid tumor that went from a small pea to a watermelon on the diet.  The weight loss program might not make disclaimers for such interferences because to some degree, folks expect folks to know their own situations and make decisions accordingly, and cannot account for such peculiar circumstances.  So, Ms. Fleenor may be bitter, but there would have to be a whole lot more information to pin the tail on the prosperity donkeys or guinea pigs. 

Moderator’s note:  I hope that Ms. Fleenor has a loving church family, or finds one.  Good pastors and elders help to prevent these types of experiences, because they are able to provide sound teaching and counsel believers according to the Word of God and their personal situations.

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