Monday, May 19, 2008

Merchandising The Things Of God

Certain people in the Church are merchandising the things of God. Stop rationalizing the merchandising of the things of God. I am not talking about books, dvds, and cds, howbeit many of such items are also exorbitant in price. You know “Act now and get the gold-plated Jesus pin with your order of 5 cds for the limited time price of $125.95, you heard right…what a sacrifice for us! (The pins were made in China at the cost of 5 cents a piece.) Bologna.

Matthew 21:12-13

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

How much is an interpretation of a dream worth?

Pastor Bob: “Pray tell, Mr. Prophet,. I understand you might be out pimping other things tonight, but do tell the meaning of my dream, as I have to plan my sermon.”

Mr. Prophet: “One dream goes for $25.00. This weekend we are having a special. Two dreams interpreted and one personal prophetic word for the low price of $62.95”.

Ms. Prophetess: “We can beat that. Buy one interpretation, get one FREE! Four days left!”

Pastor Bob: “What to do, what to do…”

Micah 3:11

"The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us."

“Need a prophetic word of encouragement? Want to know the will of God for your life, or perhaps you wonder if you are taking the right steps to prepare for the assignment He has called you to? Pimp Peddling Ministries can help you find your true destiny. We love our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we know “the Best Commission”…I meant “the Great Commission” is the number one priority.”

I have seen a prophetic ministry charge to take assessment tests to see if one is prophetically gifted, if I recall correctly it was at the tune of $100. I have seen a healing ministry literally charging over $900 to have hands laid upon the ill person and therefore be prayed over. A prophetic ministry suggests a $1000 dollar donation to receive healing instruction, prayer and the laying on of hands over a course of a week. I stood with a friend in a prophetic church (listed on the very popular prophetic website), which told us come back in three months to enroll in their fee-based class rather than pray over a situation confronting us then. Rubbish. I also know ministries which do all of the above for free, the way it should be. The way Jesus would had done it.

Acts 8:9-22

9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

I am not saying that those preaching and teaching the Word should not receive financial support from other members of the Body of Christ! They cannot exist without financial support from people! Even the ministry of Jesus received financial support: (Luke 8:3). I am talking about the abuse of power, exploitation, prostituting the gifts of God for ill-gotten gain or to meet their financial desires! For some attempt to acquire money unethically, and others even attempt to fill ungodly sexual appetites by abusing their status in the Church. Will He not supply you? Will He not meet your needs the right way?

During those dry seasons, He may just be testing your resolve to see what kind of stuff you are made of—filler product or the real deal. And for some, who decided they “wanted” to be call, as oppose to fulfilling a God-ordained calling versus a man-made calling, dry seasons are dealt with by shear human strength, wit, and improvisation. Yet, some of the God-ordained fall into this trap as well.

“Ladies and Gents, Welcome to Pimptime, our yearly telethon. The Lord just told me there are 150 people watching needing to lose 15 pounds. If you send your check for $150.00 in 15 months you will see those 15 pounds drop and gain 15 new friends!!! Hallelujah!!!”

Pastor Bob: “Jane called in and said her husband demands she send in the $150.00 today! Thank you Jane! So far 1500 people have pledged so expect a 15-fold blessing. …Wait…is that 15 fold or 150 fold? Or do we multiply it by 10 or 100?”

Mr. Prophet: “By 150, brother. By 150.”

This is sad. It is really a dreadfully serious issue. God has called certain people to specific offices, and He has dealt out spiritual gifts as He sees fit. I believe in dream interpretation, I believe God has imparted teaching, pastoral, evangelistic, prophetic and apostolic giftings to certain individuals. People have exploited their callings and gifts for recognition, for power, for money, and some maybe out of fear. Perhaps they fear God will not meet their needs because their circumstances are overwhelming.

And no, I am not likening the things of God to prostitution…He is pure, Holy, absolutely Holy. If you think I am saying that, then you are operating in the limited discernment of the false prophets. No, I am likening the actions of a certain group to those of a street hustling pimp. Therein lies the analogy.

There is a point I think crucial to make. Although some of these folks may be operating in error, should we discount them? Should we viscously attack them online or should we present biblical evidence? Are they not our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are they unreachable? I sincerely believe with all my heart and soul that most of these folks truly believe in what they are doing; and have “rationalized” and “reasoned” pimping the things of God. They believe in what they are doing and act accordingly. They have deceived themselves, and therefore they deceive others. There are, howbeit, some who are fully aware of their pimp merchandising, and they laugh in the shadows; but are they aware that God is in the shadows with them, seeing all? He knows their hearts.

Also, if one ministry says something offbeat, do something offbeat, should we discount them? There are no perfect churches out there, no perfect ministries, no perfect people. We strive to be like Christ, I say strive, as we have His Spirit in us. Paul recognizes such, and said in Philippians:

Philippians 1:15-18

15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

I want to add here, I am not talking about those preaching a false gospel, a false Christ or injecting New Age junk into their ministries. That is even worse and a more serious issue. Right now, I am talking about making bad judgments or engaging in behavior that is sinful. Greed, selfish ambition, a lust for power and recognition. Slick, sly behaviors, and manipulating people through fear and abuse of their power. In the near future, I will write more of this, particularly the issue of manipulating the emotions of people to put money in their pockets. This is primarily accomplished through injecting an element of fear and confusion into people who hear their speeches, and read their words.

Ezekiel 22:25-29

25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar , seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.