What happened when Jesus rose from the dead …

happy-easter

Weeping broke the early morning silence.  It was the first day of the week.  While the world woke up, an uncomprehending woman cried her heart out beside a tomb. 

It was a world stricken with death.  It came to them all, sooner or later.  But this was a day unlike any other.  Resurrected feet trod the earth.

“Woman, why are you crying? Who do you seek?” the King asked, approaching her.

Standing at the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognise him.  With the light and the tears blinding her eyes, she cried “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him. If you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Mary,” the King said.

“Teacher!” she cried in recognition, turning to him.

The risen Lord had been in the belly of the earth for three days and nights, even preaching to those who’d perished in the flood of Noah.  Now, he had returned from death.  (1 Peter 3:19)

He said, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” (John 20)

Obeying him, Mary, Joanna and Mary the mother of James went and told the disciples the Lord had risen, but they were not believed.

Ascending to his Kingdom, the King was greeted with songs, shouts, and cries of joy.  Walking across the sapphire pavement, the resurrected Son of God approached the throne of his Father, the keys of Death and Hell in his hands. The gates of Hell had not prevailed against him.

All of Heaven rejoiced.  The eyes of the creatures hailed their creator as the angels formed a rank of honour.  All bowed down as he passed.

A throne awaited him.

But first, before mounting the stairs to take his place at the right hand of the Father, the Son of God presented himself as the first of the harvest.

Looking ahead to the harvest of mankind that awaited, the angels sang for joy. The creatures added their voice, “Hail to the First-fruits of the earth.”

All of Heaven rose to their feet as the Father rose from his throne, accepting the sinless offering of the earth.

The Son of Man would serve as the High Priest of the New Covenant in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

The sanctuary built by Moses was a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. (Hebrews 8)

The only man-made thing in this place were the scars on the King’s body.

Now all of Heaven would await the arrival of the Church of the Firstborn.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18


This story is taken from Mark 16 and Luke 24.

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.

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