Crying wolf

For me, the year 2007 was the year of inheritance, where the Lord handed a baton to me from my ancestor and told me to run my race.  He also warned about the Prosperity Gospel.  I didn’t know what it looked like.  We were soon to learn. 

In 2010, our church was absorbed into an Auckland mega-church in a merger. It was more like a corporation than a church. We were referred to as “tithing units”.  And they didn’t have to give an accounting of where the money went.

“Who wants to give?” we’d be asked, bailed up like cornered sheep.  The pastor totally believed in tithing, even though he sneered at what a small amount 10% was.  Being on a six figure tax-free salary, it was negligible to him.  Everyone else was struggling.  He said the reason we were all struggling was because “we were under the spirit of mammon.”  Because we had house mortgages, in what has become the most expensive housing market in the world.  I get the feeling he wanted the money to go to “the house” rather than the banks.

Every service, we had a 10 minute mini sermon about money from the local pastors, and then we’d watch the senior pastor on the big screen, streamed to us live from the Auckland “campus”.  In March, there was “heart for the house, home for the harvest,” where the congregation was asked to give over and above, sacrificially.  That netted them an extra $100,000 – which was a lot for our small “campus” of the mega church.  A few months later the church was asked to give another gift to “honour the pastor” and on it went.

The pastor and wife frequently went to conferences overseas, although never in the third world.  They hold conferences themselves in Auckland, where speakers fly in from overseas.  At the end of the conferences, the pastor would take the preachers out fishing on the big boat he owned.  Now, he and his wife aren’t the only ones with flashy life styles.  There are two other Harley motorbike riding pastors heading up big churches in Auckland.  They’re all friends.

One night we were invited to the Life Business Group.  A business man said he was tithing to a missionary, and the pastor told him the tithe had to go to “the house” instead.  He called the mega church “the house” to tie it into the verses in Malachi.  Now I’m Kingdom minded.  I felt really sorry for that missionary and felt the money should have stayed with him rather than go to them.

We didn’t feel the love there.  They didn’t get much of our money as we didn’t have it to give.  But under that preaching the freedom I’d previously enjoyed disappeared when I went back under law believing I had to earn God’s love with my giving.  In 2011 we suffered a bad financial attack.  We had tenants that wrecked our house in Wanganui, our old home town six hours south of our current location.  After sacking the property manager we had to go down country every third weekend to sort the mess out.  It kept us out of church.  When we were home, we usually didn’t want to go.  We had enough pressure from running the business and fixing up the house without getting any more from the church.

Prosperity doctrineWhen we got the house sorted out, we were invited to join their business group.  It was led by the Pastor’s son who looked like a mini-me younger version of his father.  I didn’t see the nepotism at the time, but I didn’t have any peace about going.  My husband said if we commit to that, we need to commit to the church.  God stepped in at this point.  After praying for God’s will I got directed to a website by Chris Rosebrough, a theologian who doesn’t mince his words about this kind of thing, nor suffer fools gladly.  He is sarky but truthful.  He called the pastor a charlatan and huckster, fleecing the sheep. Not one passage was handled correctly, he said. Where was the gospel, he asked.

We left after telling them why.  We’re now at a Kingdom minded, Bible Believing Church where the Pastor knows us and there is no emphasis on money.  Every year, financial statements are produced for the congregation, and we are asked to go to the AGM.  We get to serve with our gifts and give freely of our money.  And we’ve learned about important lessons about stewardship.

I am offering my story here in the hope it might help others who are or have been in a similar situation.  I haven’t named the pastor because I don’t want to make it about him, I want to get at the false teaching.  You can see and hear him from the links I’ve provided.

You can hear the pastor here, and Chris Rosebough’s response.
http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2010/09/christian-thug-life.html

Here’s a link that talks about the methods the pastor employed; How Pastors Get Rich.

God bless, and may you give freely, not under compulsion.

wolves-phil-pringle-brian-houston-casey-treat-paul-de-jong

The pastor from our previous church is second from left. Picture is from hillsongchurchwatch.com/tag/wolves/

That poor widow

sowing

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:38-43

How many of us have heard the story of the widow’s mite as an example of sacrificial giving?  Jesus made the observation that she gave more than all the rich people.  He did not commend her for that.  He just stated a fact after warning about the Teachers of the Law, who liked to devour widows houses!  (Mark 12:38-43)

When he did talk about commending people, he used the example of the unjust steward! (Luke 16) Really?  How does that work?  I asked the Lord for his wisdom on that, because it appeared he was being contradictory.

I was at work, so he gave me an example from my business.  Say I order a really expensive computer part, but the customer doesn’t follow through on the order and I can’t return it.  I’m going to be in trouble with Bert, my husband and business partner, because I didn’t get a 50% deposit and it has to go in stock.  I decide to sell it at cost.  I tell the next customer that I’ll give them a 30% discount on it.  I’ve lost my profit on the item but Bert is happy because he’s got the money back, and the customer is happy.  That’s what the unjust steward did after getting into trouble with his master.

Jesus said the master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (Luke 16:8)
He certainly wouldn’t have been commended if he’d used the master’s money to curry favour for himself.

We’re told to use unrighteous mammon (worldly wealth) to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it is gone, we will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  But we’re not to serve mammon.

How can the use of unrighteous mammon welcome you into eternal dwellings?  Well, if it’s used to build on God’s foundation, the builder will receive a reward, when the day brings our work to light.  1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

When Jesus warned you can’t serve two masters; God and mammon, he said to lay up treasures in heaven; Matthew 6:19

plater_02The Bible warns about being exploited by false teachers who will make merchandise out of us.  They are ferocious wolves, not sparing the flock.  You’ll know them by their fruit.  They will look like sheep, nice guys who identify with the common people – but they’ll love money, just like the Pharisees of old.  Listen to what they’re preaching, and have a look at their lifestyles.

The historian Josephus (himself a Pharisee) claimed that Pharisees received the full-support and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees, who were the upper class.  (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees.)  The Pharisees loved money. (Luke 16:14).

With feigned words they’ll make merchandise of you.  They talk about the law of sowing and reaping.  Money doesn’t grow on trees and I haven’t seen a harvest after people “sowing” it.  If you sow money into their ministries you’re sowing your talent into the ground, where it’s not going to yield any fruit.  Well, it will yield fruit for them in the form of cash.  There is a proverb that says “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.”  Proverbs 18:21

They trot out Malachi 3:8, knowing that it’ll work.  After all, no one wants to rob God!  They should be reading the previous chapter Malachi 2:1-9.  The one that starts “And now, you priests, this warning is for you.”

Here’s what the New Testament has to say about sowing and reaping;
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Galations 6:7-8.Malachi 3-8

So if a person sowed for financial abundance, they’re sowing to please their flesh.

Another verse about sowing is in the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-29) where the master came and settled accounts with his servants. The one who’d only had one talent had buried it in the ground.  He sowed it, so to speak. Through fear!  Because he thought the master was harsh.  What was he afraid of?  Robbing God?  But Jesus pointed out that this master does not obey the law of sowing and reaping!  “He reaps where he has not sown and gathers where he has scattered no seed. (Matthew 25:24-26, said twice)

Did you know Baal is the god of prosperity?  I believe the devil is trying to get believers to sow into the natural (the flesh) so they’ll build on a foundation that is not Christ, thus affecting their treasures in heaven (spiritual inheritance).  And it will frustrate God’s purposes by diverting funds away from the Kingdom of God.  And THAT is robbing God.

Now who do you think encouraged the poor widow to give?  The Teachers of the Law!  Oh by the way, true religion is taking care of widows and orphans.  James 1:27.  What’s wrong with this picture!

Now I’m not against giving.  I’m for being wise, being a good steward of my money, and having the freedom to give joyfully.  I love investing in the kingdom of God.  Did you know you can even loan God money?
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.  Proverbs 9:17

But I’m not going to allow religious leaders to take away my freedom, or my riches in heaven.  We are not under law when it comes to our giving.  Anyone who references the Old Testament law to compel giving is a Teacher of the Law.  Watch out for them.  And don’t “sow” into their “ministries”.

God bless.  I’d love to hear your comments.  Next chapter, I’m going to tell of my own experiences with the tithing and sowing doctrine.

A time for war

St Matthews Monastery Iraq

Mar Mattai (St Matthews) Monastery Iraq

This week a priest visited the churches in my small community, along with the elders of the Assyrian Church of NZ.  His name was Father Fadi.  He needed an interpreter as he did not speak English, he spoke Aramaic – the language of Jesus.  He was dressed in a black hassock with a black and silver skufia (soft cloth cap).  Why was he so far away from his homeland? 

Father Fadi was forced to leave Iraq.  His wife and children are still there.

mahurangi2

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Matakana coming home

I had never before seen a member of the persecuted church, and we all listened to him very carefully.  He carried the hurt of his people.

Realising we were in the presence of an ancient church, one that had been persecuted for centuries, a reverential hush came over us.  It reminded me of the hush I witnessed when a church was moved on a barge from Snells Beach back to Matakana, it’s original community.  The waiting crowd had gone silent when the little church appeared around the final bend of the Matakana river.

This is also a church on the move, but there is no home for it.  Mosul (Ninevah) is a Christian area, always has been.  Father Fadi said things got progressively worse for them in Iraq after Sadam Hussein was deposed, especially since 2010.  He said that every day his heart had pain.

There were over 100,000 Christians living on the plains of Ninevah.  Isis forced the people out.  They had to leave their homes overnight and and have nowhere to go.  Some of them are sheltering under highway underpasses and the temperature has got up to 50 degrees C.

Father Fadi said that he wanted us to know that there was a church in Iraq.  St Matthews was his monastery.  It was founded in the 3rd century.  Its 20kms from Mosul, ancient Ninevah.  Now there are only two elderly monks left at St Matthews who did not want to abandon the monastery.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10916613/Iraqs-beleaguered-Christians-make-final-stand-on-the-Mosul-frontline.html

Please pray for them.  What does God think of their plight?  Why has He been silent in the face of the slander, abuse and murder of His people?

For the past two weeks, I’ve been getting a verse from Amos;

The lion has roared—
    who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—
    who can but prophesy? Amos 3:8.

I’ve been praying for a context.  Today He told me the Lord is a God who avenges, and one of His names is “The avenger of blood.”

We’re not used to that concept.  All we know is a God who has taught us forgiveness 70 x 7.  We know the Lamb, not the Lion.

It’s time for the church to rise up and pray.  There is a time for peace, and a time for war.  The church couldn’t stand by and turn the other cheek while Hitler was rampaging through Europe and North Africa.  In that time, God raised up intercessors like Rees Howells.  We need to intercede like that again.

What can we pray?

It can be hard to pray about the enemy.  I mean, I’d love to ask God to slaughter the Jihadists and leave their dead bodies strewn across the desert.  It would be justice, but then I’d be praying for them to go to hell.  A better prayer would be for God to thwart them, or make Himself known to them in dreams.  If you don’t know what to pray, pray the word.  Psalms are good for this purpose.  God delights in us addressing Him using His word, and it never returns void.  The devil can’t stop prayer from the word.  God gave me Psalm 94 to pray for His persecuted people;

Assyrian Christian Fr Adda

Assyrian Christian Father Adda prays at St. Matthew monastery on Mount Maqloub, northeast of Mosul in Northern Iraq, Jan 12 2004

 O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
    pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
    how long will the wicked be jubilant?

 They pour out arrogant words;
    all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, Lord;
    they oppress your inheritance.
 They slay the widow and the foreigner;
    they murder the fatherless.
 They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

The wicked band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.

Lord let the enemy know you do see,
Let the enemy see you are taking notice.
Let them see the futility of their arrogant words and empty boasts,
That they may come to fear you.

Lord protect the widow, the foreigner, the fatherless.
Become the fortress of your persecuted people,
the rock in whom they can take refuge.  Amen.

There’s a lot more to the Psalm than I’ve prayed here.  I recommend you read the whole Psalm.  I will write more about the Lion of God in the next post.

Some things aren’t built to move

I have the same rightWhat do you think of same sex marriage?  The Church didn’t see it coming, and we’re left scrambling.  Some Churches see themselves as inclusive, and they will conduct gay marriages.  Other Churches are taking a “wait and see” approach.  The Church I belong to is sticking to what is written in the Bible, that marriage is between a man and a woman. I agree with my Church.  Now you may see me as being an intolerant bigot.  No, I’m a repentant sinner.  There’s this saying I like; “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes“, and I am going to.  Please hear me out.

Jesus was very clear about divorce, and marriage being between one man and one woman.  You can read it for yourself in Matthew 19:3-11.

My story “The Kingdom” began when I was a divorced woman with a married man.  At first, I didn’t regard that as being a terrible sin.  I mean, he was going to get divorced!  Do you see how messed up that was?  When I got to know God, He showed me that He regards divorce, adultery, and homosexuality as sin.  It was a struggle for me to trust God to get me out of all of that.  I got there with a lot of help from my friends and support from people in different churches.  After my divorce God in His mercy gave me a second chance, and I was able to leave all of that behind me.  I am now very happily married to a man who loves the Lord as much as I do.

What do you think the Church is here for?  It’s to deal with sin.  We’re like a cross between a school and a hospital.  We teach the truth, and bring emotional, physical and spiritual healing to those who are wounded by sin.  That is what we do, knowing that we ourselves are sinners.  We are not perfect, we’ve been forgiven.  The church is there to help turn our lives around, so we can go the other way.  That is what we are.  We are like a lighthouse – an oil filled one.  Oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit.  If your Church is offering same sex marriage – run.  It’s a Church without any oil.  Jesus told a story about a Bridegroom and oil in Matthew 25, the parable of the 10 virgins.  That Church is not interested in dealing with sin, or your spiritual condition.  The Church is supposed to deal with sin, not accomodate it in the name of “tolerance” or “inclusiveness”!

We can’t change the marriage covenant.  It would mean abandoning our faith to do it.  You might as well be asking for a lighthouse to move!  Here’s a clip about the USS Montana and a lighthouse.

The Gate Keeper

battle-readyWe’re in a war, and it involves our homes.  I should know.  I come from four generations of broken homes on my mother’s side.  I never knew my own grandmother.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

I repeated the broken home pattern myself, but unlike my maternal grandmother I refused to abandon my children.

My children did not have an ideal home as the father was missing, but unlike the previous generations, I turned to God and he turned this family around.  He gave me strength, self worth, boundaries and a lot of practical help.  When the children reached their teenage years I was given a second chance at marriage.  The man I married is a good man who loves my children like they are his own.

I put two things on hold while I was raising the children on my own – dating and a career.

Did I earn as much money?  No. Did I have any romance?  No, just temptation.

Was it worth it?  Yes!  I still got to where I wanted to go, my children have safely reached adulthood,  happy and well adjusted.  They are navigating life for themselves now.  I pray to God that the unhappy pattern of divorces has been broken, to be replaced with happy marriages.

I now respect the home maker profession more than any other.  Although I’ve had two careers and now I’m a self employed business woman, I realise it is the most important job you ever get to do.

Satan targets women as they run the most important place – the home.   Mothers have the most influence on children – if a mother is broken and can’t raise her sons and daughters, he wins.

warHe will look for where you are most vulnerable, and tempt you there.  Be careful what you let into your home.

There are lots of sharks swimming in the sea of life, and you don’t always see their fins.

2 Timothy 3:1-9 gives you a list of them.

Here are some I encountered;

1) The narcissist who wormed his way into my home with charm, and destroyed it.

2) Religious wolves dressed as sheep – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  The ones that are easy to spot are the ones who turn up on your doorstep holding Bibles.  Not so easy to spot are the “apostles” who want a percentage of your income as “tithes”.

3) A friend of my daughter who was disobedient to her parents, unholy, and ungrateful.  She tried to get my daughter to shop lift.

4) A gossip who slandered a loved one.  Covered in an earlier post.

1) I invited in, 2) I did not invite in 3) My daughter invited her in 4) Got invited in with a group of people

Have nothing to do with them.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9 they are described as “the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires …”Tellievision

Ouch, ouch ouch.  I asked myself some tough questions in the next chapter of my story.

Weak willed?  If they gain control, you have been weak willed.

Loaded down with sins?  Is there stuff in your life or family of origin stuff that hasn’t been dealt with?

Evil desires?  Just look at what is on your TV that may sway you, or your child.

So watch yourself.   If you are a mother, you are the gate keeper of the home.  Its dangerous times we’re living in.

Psalm 101 is a great piece of scripture for a gate keeper.  My advice is make it intentional.  Learn it, memorise it, and use it.  If you put it into effect, it will save you a lot of grief.

Also, Gate Keepers need discernment.  You can ask God for this gift.

 

The Kingdom – Here be Dragons

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Timothy 3:1-9

I read this and went ouch!  I had been one of those gullible women.  I will point out that the ones who are always learning without arriving at the truth are the narcissists, people who are lovers of themselves.

The King told me that in the centuries that He gave His words through men, He could not always do much about the tone or delivery.  His servant, the apostle Paul did not mince his words.  He was a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee.  

He told me to take hold of His words with all of my heart, not just the bits of the Bible I liked.

Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have,get understanding.  Proverbs 4

Here’s the truth from my own life.  My parents were not there for me in my childhood, and I had unmet needs.  I learned to ignore them, until the feeling of loss became too great.  Years later a friend who became my mentor taught me that if you bury your feelings, you bury them alive.  There are those who with great care will discern where you are vulnerable, to gain your trust so they can manipulate and exploit you. I ended up with a narcissist.

I believe we all have a desire to be loved, respected and cherished.  Its who and what we attract with that need.  Guard your heart.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4