beggars, carrot and stick, commercialistic methods, flock fleecers, idolatrous commercialization, integrity of God's name, market-driven, mega-churches, peddling religious wares, radio-evangelists, swindlers, televangelists
I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—not once have I seen an abandoned believer, or his kids out roaming the streets. (Psalm 37:25, MSG)
They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth. (3 John 1:7, MSG)
Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. (James 2:5, MSG)
It is so disheartening to know that instead of televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists preaching and teaching the unadulterated Word of God, without pausing for strategically planned advertisements, too many of these so-called “spiritual leaders” are guilty of integrating the art of begging and commercialistic methods into their sermons and teaching sessions. Furthermore, nothing quenches the Holy Spirit more than for HIM to hear these same men and women BEG directly for financial support, or BEG indirectly via their merchandising—through the exchange of goods (their “Christian” CDs, DVDs, or books) for an agreed sum of money.
It also is sickening to know that many of these men and women actually think that God has given them the okay to solicit for financial support and to offer their “Christian” wares (also for financial support), because they have reasoned that their begging and everything they are offering for sale, in God’s name, are for God. However, what many of these men and women do not realize is that, when they BEG for money and when they use commercialistic methods for the buying and selling of their “religious” goods, and do so in the name of God, they are putting the integrity of God’s name and His promises found in His Word at stake.
Then, to add insult to injury, these televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists almost always insist that it is their followers’ (their watchers, listeners, and readers’) responsibility to keep their (these so-called “spiritual leaders’”) ministries and/or churches running. By dangling the carrot of partnership (claiming that their followers’ generous giving will elevate them to a “partner” status), and by dangling the carrot of tax-free donations, these televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists let their faithful watchers, listeners, and readers mistakenly believe that they not only will be making ministry or church decisions right along with these beggars but also they are letting their financial partners believe that they are fulfilling their God-required evangelistic obligation by giving to these beggars. Additionally, these beggars are letting many of their MAJOR financial contributors falsely believe that they (the MAJOR financial contributors) are getting a chance to do “something” that not even these televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists can do, and that “something” is writing their contributions off their taxes!
Now, if these flock fleecers cannot get their followers to fall for the partnership and tax-free carrots, then these swindlers will wave a guilt-trip stick, which threatens that God will punish them (the beggars) if their followers do not sow seeds into their churches or ministries (if their followers do not send financial support . . . their tithes, offerings, or donations). These swindlers continue waving their guilt-trip stick, which warns their followers that their unsupportive actions will be the reason why God’s punishment will be to let these televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists’ ministries go out of business, and to let the doors to their churches close.
Furthermore, if their followers are a little hesitant about accepting the aforesaid guilt-trip, these flock fleecers then use their last resort. Their last resort is always the prosperity lie, which tricks their followers into believing that they will be greatly blessed for their monetary gifts/donations. Once these swindlers use this last resort, their rip off has closure—they finally have gotten their followers to agree to send them money.
Men and women who use this kind of begging give the impression that their understanding of God’s holiness and His heavenly resources is very nebulous, especially when they not only do not have any problem begging believers for money but also do not have any problem begging the world (lending institutions, humanitarian organizations, etcetera) for money. This begging, however, actually belittles the power, favor, and blessings of God. Thus, to maintain the integrity inherent in Father God, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s names, and holiness in their works (blessings and supernatural power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders), today’s Christian leaders, who appear to the world to be anointed to beg, must decide to restore their trust in God and, by extension, His children’s trust in God, to supply ALL needs!
Moreover, believers also must know which of today’s churches and ministries are corrupt. When believers see, week after week after week, that this world’s wealthiest landowners (Christian churches and ministries) always have poor people sitting right next to their more affluent members, then believers will know that these churches and ministries are corrupt. In other words, today’s churches and ministries are corrupt, when it is evident that their televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists, as well as other “spiritual leaders,” have far too much money, love, and time invested in their physical building called “church,” and not enough money, love, and time invested in their spiritual buildings called “believers,” who are worshipping and fellowshipping in these corrupt churches and ministries!
Some of the most corrupt churches today are mega-churches. For instance, most mega-churches are MORE market-driven instead of being more motivated about their soul-winning responsibilities. The majority of mega-churches are about bringing the world into their “church” instead of being about taking the Gospel of Christ into the world. Many mega-churches are also more concerned about external splendor instead of being more concerned about inner beauty. Lastly, too many mega-churches are about experiencing a mystical or self-help “religion” instead of being about living a holy lifestyle. For these reasons, and others, most mega-churches are corrupt!
What is interesting to know is that mega-churches were never on Jesus’ agenda, but cleansing God’s House of Prayer was; likewise, pursuing wealth, begging for money, and commercializing God’s Temple also were NEVER on Jesus’ agenda, but warning people about money’s distractions, stopping those who try to hoard and/or control it, and teaching His followers about good stewardship, humility, and the weightier issues that pertain to “the Temple of the Lord” were. For these reasons, stewardship (the management of God’s property, finances, or other affairs) is solely a salvation issue, which points to each steward’s heart and to his or her relationship with God. In other words, stewardship is not primarily about paying the bills or providing salaries for pastors. Which is to say, even if poor stewardship caused some churches or ministries to run out of money and, as a result, close their doors (shut down their Internet sites, discontinue their television or radio broadcasts, etcetera), the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus would NOT end with these churches and ministries’ finales!
Thus, since stewardship is solely a salvation issue, then what matters most to God is not how much money people have in their banks but rather what they have in their hearts (heart = the seat of every person’s intellect, conscience, affections, morality, and spirituality). To be precise, God is concerned with believers realizing that their love for Him is supposed to extend beyond their mere lip service and stretch or spread out until it (their love for God) reaches into their wallets, as well as into everything else they must give in order to encourage, build up, and sustain the Body of Christ.
Being a good steward, then, doesn’t mean that believers have a right to beg for money. For that matter, NO “begging” of any kind is an option for God’s children, because BEGGING has no place in the Gospel of Christ, and no place in the Kingdom of God! Since believers are never told that God wants them to beg, then begging for money is NOT a God anointed spiritual gift!!!
What God’s Word teaches believers about money is that His children are to use it to HELP anyone who is in need—believers are to support God’s Kingdom by helping the poor, the homeless, the naked, the physically famished, the spiritually hungry, the unemployed, the widows, the widowers, and those hard-hit by recent economic crises . . . in essence, believers are supposed to HELP their neighbors, and a neighbor is anyone who has a “legitimate” NEED. God’s children, however, are not commanded to keep any “spiritual leaders’” personal jet fueled, or to pay for the purchase or upkeep of any other opulent items, like a Rolex; Rolls Royce, Bentley or Mercedes stretch limousine; multi-million dollar mansion; designer clothes; or luxurious jewelry; and so forth, that any “spiritual leaders” might WANT or might have.
Furthermore, God wants His children to know that if they totally TRUSTED Him to provide for the church or ministry He has given to them, then it wouldn’t matter to them how stingy with Kingdom money and Kingdom spiritual gifts some so-called believers might me. God’s children would know that He not only is able to supply EVERYONE’S need and still have plenty left over, but also they would know that He never fails to provide for His children, even if He has to do it supernaturally.
God would rather that His children gave to those in need according to how His givers purposed in their own hearts, knowing that giving sparingly means the givers also will reap sparingly, and vice versa. But, even if none, some, or many of His children didn’t give, as they should, God ALWAYS will provide! For sure, God’s Holy Spirit knows which hearts are receptive to His promptings and leadings, and it is to those receptive hearts that He speaks about giving to this or that church and ministry. In the case of those believers who hear but they do not choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting, God provides in other ways. The problem here is that most believers ONLY live in the world of their five senses rather than simultaneously living in the supernatural realm and in their sensory domain. As a result, unless they can smell, hear, feel, touch, or see how God is providing for them, they will lean toward relying on their own strengths and abilities rather than lean toward relying on God to keep His Word.
Both naturally and spiritually speaking, where people live (either in the natural world or in the spiritual AND the natural worlds) is why God also wants His children to know that anyone who doesn’t see a need, or anyone who sees a need but doesn’t respond compassionately to that need, especially when he or she has the resources to do so, is more than likely not even a child of God! A child of God hears and obeys God—hears and obeys His Word, hears and obeys His Son’s voice, and hears and obeys the promptings and leadings of His Holy Spirit! Therefore, “spiritual leaders” cannot use the stinginess of their givers as a reason to beg for more money from them, because anyone who is being stingy with what God has given this person isn’t a genuine child of God! Thus, since God never begged unbelievers and the unsaved for money, then neither should any of His children.
It is important to note here that there is nothing wrong with having wealth (having the resources that can be of help to others). Moreover, God does not condemn wealth. In fact, wealth in God’s economy is never measured by what a person has. That’s why God wants His children to know that wealth to Him is about what His children can give away! Once again, even though God wants His children to prosper financially, He does not want them to hoard their wealth, or spend it solely on themselves. Because God is omniscient, He knows that just as impoverished conditions can cause people to rebel against Him, and even cause them to forget about Him, the same is true about people living in affluent environments (cf. Proverbs 30:8-9 and Hosea 13:6). Therefore, God wants His children to know that both wealth and poverty can distract them.
The fact that both wealth and poverty can distract people is why, in the Bible, God speaks more about the distractions of wealth than He speaks about the distractions of poverty. Since money has the power to distract believers (can be the main reason why they take their focus and trust off of God), God wants His children to understand that the more they try to possess money the more money will end up possessing them. God also wants His children to know that He is incensed by believers’ self-satisfaction—by anyone who looks at the wealth he or she has and thinks: “God has blessed me with this, and therefore, God is pleased with the way I am living.”
The bottom line is this: God wants His children to realize that HE is the One who blesses them with a great harvest—with much worldly wealth and spiritual treasures—but not so that they would use their considerable riches for their own enrichment, but rather so that they would use their substantial worldly wealth and spiritual treasures to help others who have urgent needs. Therefore, the people who think that God will bless them with money just so they can be self-satisfied soon will find out that they are spiritually bankrupt—spiritually naked and spiritually blind!
Just for the record, the Bible does not condemn those who are financially rich, per se. The Bible, however, does condemn some of the means by which people become wealthy, and the Bible does warn that when God blesses people with money, He expects them to keep their priorities straight and guard their body, soul, and spirit against the captivating effects of wealth. However, the reason why most believers do not keep their priorities straight and, thus, end up being distracted by money is because most people are so busy comparing what they have to what someone else has. Indeed, the fundamental reason why so many people are discontented is “comparison,” and this discontentment is even more discouraging when it is believers who are making comparisons, like: his house is larger and better than mine; her skin is smoother than mine; their choir has nicer robes than ours; our church is smaller than theirs, and so forth.
Ironically, where most people do draw the line is in refusing to let themselves be reduced to the object of comparison. That is to say, many of today’s televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists will not let themselves be compared to the great men and women in the Bible. This refusal to be the object of comparison is why, for example, it is very rare these days to find any televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists who want to be like or live like Jesus the Christ or even the Apostle Paul.
In the Apostle Paul’s case, he knew that men and women of God mainly are spiritually “called” TO God, and secondly they are spiritually “called” FOR God’s Glory, with the latter being accomplished when believers recognize, understand, and participate in their secondary or specific callings. Now, the Apostle Paul understood that a primary spiritual “calling” pertains to the Caller (God) summoning the “called” (believers) TO Him. He also understood that the secondary or specific spiritual “callings” refer to EVERYTHING the “called” do in response to that primary calling—everything they do for the Lord in response to being “called” into a relationship and communion with God.
The bottom line for Apostle Paul, then, is this: A spiritual “calling” is not a vocation . . . and not a livelihood! Therefore, no one can choose to become a pastor, prophet, apostle, evangelist, Bible teacher, and so forth! Knowing that God chose him to be His apostle is why the Apostle Paul does not use His spiritual “calling” to earn a living. Not only does the Apostle Paul get his income from making tents, but also he refuses to ask for and refuses to expect the churches he establishes to pay him for his spiritual services! Since today’s televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists view their “calling” as a way to make a living, it is easy to understand why they would not want to compare their lives to the life of Apostle Paul, or to Jesus the Christ’s life, for that matter.
Clearly, not wanting to be like and live like Apostle Paul or Jesus the Christ are reasons why it is evident that today’s “spiritual leaders” from various denominational churches have come to rely heavily on their own begging techniques and on the world’s commercialistic methods (ways to turn everything into something that can generate a profit), while simultaneously trusting less and less in their God. This self-reliance and secular faith in commercialistic methods are also why many of today’s “spiritual leaders” from various denominational churches are building their mega-churches ON CREDIT, and why the institutional church is paying pastors and church workers’ salaries.
Now, since today’s “spiritual leaders” trust less in God than they used to, no one should have been surprised when these “spiritual leaders” started begging for more money, almost the very moment when the economy experienced the downturn that affected members’ tithing and generous giving. Indeed, in those mega-churches where their “spiritual leaders” had taken out loans to pay for their building projects, which included creating campuses on which mega-church members could find luxurious spas, convenient banks, coffeehouses, and personal fitness facilities, and so forth, these borrowers now have to beg for MORE and MORE money, because they need to pay their building notes and keep themselves living the life of the person in charge—the life of a Chief Executive Office . . . once called the senior pastor.
Since one of the ways “spiritual leaders” become wealthy today is through commercializing their brick and mortar churches, and by extension, their ministries, the men and women in charge of mega-churches, and some leaders of small to medium-sized churches, find their beliefs to be at odds with those of Jesus the Christ’s, even though these men and women KNOW that the Lord condemned the commercialization that took place in the Jewish Temple (cf. Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; and John 2:14-16). However, knowing that their beliefs are in conflict with the Lord’s doesn’t seem to faze these 21st-century men and women. They just don’t seem to care that they are doing things in their churches that are contrary to the Lord’s Way, because they continue doing what they are doing—buying and selling, and begging, for MORE money.
During the first Temple cleansing, at the start of Jesus the Christ’s ministry, His major concern for the Temple merchants and moneychangers was that, if they continued down the slippery slope they were on (that of turning God’s house of prayer into a “…house of merchandise”; John 2:16), they eventually would end up turning God’s Temple into a “…den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). By the time of His second Temple cleansing, at the end of His three and a half years of ministry, this is exactly what had happened.
Thus, it should stand to reason that the Lord’s condemnation of the commercialization that was going on inside of the Jewish Temple, and its negative effects, show how quickly idolatry (the love of money) and covetousness (greed) can creep into God’s House of Prayer (in this case, during the 3½ years of Jesus the Christ’s ministry). His condemnation should have been enough to stop today’s “spiritual leaders” in churches or ministries that lack the necessary financial support from turning to commercialism and begging. Needing money to run a church or ministry doesn’t give any “spiritual leader” the right to BEG for money, or to buy and sell in churches. Indeed, the lack of financial support is never a reason for believers to BEG for the money that will keep “their” church or ministry solvent. Financial need also is never a reason to commercialize any church—to make it a Brand Name. Furthermore, this aforementioned kind of begging and commercialism sends the message that the “beggars” do not trust that their God supports what they are doing.
Isn’t it ironic, though, that most of today’s allegedly “anointed” beggars often will tell their targeted groups of believers that they need to step out on “faith,” by giving out of their need so that these beggars’ WANTS can be met? They preach and teach that the givers just have to wait for God, who in due season will bless them (the givers) for being obedient! They preach and teach that the tangible evidence, which proves God has blessed His faithful and righteous children, is their financial prosperity. Now, who in this scenario REALLY is the person who truly has the so-called “weak,” “small,” or “NO” faith?
The Lord says that the harvest most definitely is plentiful, but for these workers (these televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists), getting souls saved is not as promising as begging for more money and/or commercializing their churches or ministries for a profit. In other words, these so-called “spiritual leaders” are absolutely not interested in leading people to the Lord and making disciples of them once they get them there. Consequently, what these preachers and teachers have done is switched their focus off of the end or eventual purpose of every saved individual, which is for believers to fulfill the Great Commission by being a blessing to others.
These preachers and teachers, unfortunately, are more concerned with their followers blessing them with a financial blessing than they are interested in seeing to it that they (“spiritual leaders”) are a blessing to their followers. For this reason, it is easy to see now why today’s televangelists, radio-evangelists, and Internet evangelists will stop a sermon or teaching session right when they are about to impart some REAL wisdom, knowledge, or understanding about Christian living or the Kingdom of God, and then start focusing on begging and/or using commercialistic methods to peddle their wares! The sad Divine Truth is that many Christians who tenaciously pursue the art of begging, and the commercialization of the institutional church often obtain their financial support immorally, dishonestly, and/or unjustly! As a result, these individuals can expect Jesus the Christ to say to them: “…My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves” (Matthew 21:13, MSG).
Why is this last statement true? History is repeating itself. Just as it was so easy in Jesus the Christ’s day for the “religious” people to justify why they were in God’s Temple (House of Prayer) buying and selling doves and other animals to be sacrificed to God, it is also very easy for modern-day men and women in God’s houses of prayer to behave just like those merchants, moneychangers, temple priests and their family members. Today’s peddlers of “religious” wares also always find it easy to justify why they are buying and selling in the names of God and Jesus, no matter whether they are doing so inside a church building, or outside of it. Like the “religious” people in the Lord’s day, today’s believers, especially church and ministry preachers, teachers, and other “spiritual leaders,” also reason: It is all for God.
The Divine Truth of the matter is this: Both begging and peddling are contrary to the Perfect Will of God. For this reason, no genuinely “called” into God’s ministry preacher, teacher, or other “spiritual leader” could ever think that he or she has any right to BEG, in God or Jesus’ name, for financial help. Moreover, any man or woman who is “called” FOR God’s Glory would want unsaved human beings to hear God’s Truth so that their souls can be saved. That’s why, no matter how righteous their cause might be, they would NOT sell their “Christian” CDs, DVDs, or books that have salvation and Kingdom of God information on or in them to saved or unsaved individuals in order to get financial help for the ministry God has given to them!
To those who have an ear, by the aid of the Holy Spirit let them hear and obey….
For additional information, please read my blog entries: No Longer Acceptable To Exchange And Negotiate Inside The Temple, Are Spiritual Gifts Still Misunderstood?, and The Great Commission Today Is ALL About The Benjamins