Tuesday, April 29, 2008

National Seniors Day

Sunday, May 4th, is National Seniors Sunday. I hope you will take time to honor those in your church or circle of influence that are elders. Too often we write older folks off as 'senile'; out of touch'; and other bigoted terms that do disrespect to older folks.

God thought enough that He declared in his Word the following:

Psalm 92:12-14 (NIV)
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

So, honor your elders. Even the business community is discovering a wealth of experience that is available to them from the retired senior population and many companies now have aggressive hiring efforts to recruit from this vast resource. If you have not yet reached those golden years, just remember, you will be there should the Lord allow you length of days on the earth.

Friday, April 25, 2008

“We Aren’t Home Yet”

Dr. W.A. Criswell told about the faithful missionary couple who returned to the United States on the same ship that brought Teddy Roosevelt home from a safari in Africa. Many reporters and photographers were on the dock, waiting to see Roosevelt and interview him and take pictures; but nobody was on hand to welcome home the veteran missionaries who had spent their lives serving Christ in Africa.

That evening, in their modest hotel room, the couple reviewed their arrival in New York City; and the husband was somewhat bitter.

“It isn’t fair,” he said to his wife. “Mr. Roosevelt comes home from a hunting trip, and the whole country is out to meet him. We get home after years of service, and nobody was there to greet us.”

But his wife had the right answer: “Honey, we aren’t home yet.

So my fellow believers, when you get discouraged because it seems to so hard to live in this world…so much heartache, anxiety over finances, so many problems to deal with—it can seem almost overwhelming. Be encouraged! We’re not home yet!

As an old Gospel song goes:

“This World is not my home; I’m just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me, from heaven’s open door;
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”

Monday, April 21, 2008

“Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World”

This was the headline story in the New York Sun today, April 21, 2008, which was linked on the Drudge Report. Does any American think that we would have food rationing? Only a few years ago, the Federal Government had warehouses overflowing with surplus commodities that they had purchased from farmers who grew so much food, there were no buyers, except the Federal Government.

The article relates that many retail and warehouse stores around the country have been limiting the amount of rice, flour and other commodities in short supply, that consumers can purchase. If you shop for groceries, you are aware that fuel costs are driving the costs of everything up, up, up and away from the reach of many household budgets. The new political correctness of the “Green Earth” is swallowing up huge amounts of corn and other food-stuffs, used in the production of ethanol, adding to runaway inflation and shortages. Would who have conceived of this in America of 2008? People are beginning to learn to use public transit and parking their
SUV’s and automobiles because of the runaway inflation in fuel costs.

You are also reading about riots in various countries in the world because of food costs and in some cases—no food!

We are perhaps one recession/depression away from famines and food shortages of Biblical proportions that are prophesied to happen in the Book of Revelation in the Bible, in the end-time.

Revelation 6:5-8 (NIV) 5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine! 7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come! 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984

This passage in Revelation vividly describes an event during the Great Tribulation period when you will pay a day’s wages for a quart of wheat. It was followed closely by the Pale Horse Rider in v. 8 that delivered the sword, famine and plagues. A fourth of the earth’s population was slain.

How close are we to these events? I believe we are very close! My question to you—are you prepared to meet the Judge of all the earth—Jesus Christ?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prosperity Doctrine

The recent Telethon on a major Christian television channel has prompted me to review the "Prosperity Doctrine". If you have followed many of these programs, speaker after speaker will tell you that you should give a "seed offering" expecting a financial return on your contribution. It almost sounds like Day--Trading in the stock market. A friend of mine sent me an editorial article by J. Lee Grady from a 2003 Charisma Magazine. I am submitting this article for you to think about what the father of "Word-Faith" doctrine thought before he died.

Fire In My Bones
By Lee Grady

Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning

Before he died in 2003, the revered father of the Word-Faith movement corrected his spiritual sons for going to extremes with their message of prosperity.

Charismatic Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin Sr. is considered the father of the so-called prosperity gospel. The folksy, self-trained “Dad Hagin” started a grass-roots movement in Oklahoma that produced a Bible college and a crop of famous preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Jesse DuPlantis, Creflo Dollar and dozens of others—all of whom teach that Christians who give generously should expect financial rewards on this side of heaven.

Hagin taught that God was not glorified by poverty and that preachers do not have to be poor. But before he died in 2003 and left his Rhema Bible Training Center in the hands of his son, Kenneth Hagin Jr., he summoned many of his colleagues to Tulsa to rebuke them for distorting his message. He was not happy that some of his followers were manipulating the Bible to support what he viewed as greed and selfish indulgence.
Those who were close to Hagin Sr. say he was passionate about correcting these abuses before he died. In fact, he wrote a brutally honest book to address his concerns. The Midas Touch was published in 2000, a year after the infamous Tulsa meeting.

Many Word-Faith ministers ignored the book. But in light of the recent controversy over prosperity doctrines, it might be a good idea to dust it off and read it again.

Here are a few of the points Hagin made in The Midas Touch:

1. Financial prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessing. Hagin wrote: “If wealth alone were a sign of spirituality, then drug traffickers and crime bosses would be spiritual giants. Material wealth can be connected to the blessings of God or it can be totally disconnected from the blessings of God.”

2. People should never give in order to get. Hagin was critical of those who “try to make the offering plate some kind of heavenly vending machine.” He denounced those who link giving to getting, especially those who give cars to get new cars or who give suits to get new suits. He wrote: “There is no spiritual formula to sow a Ford and reap a Mercedes.”

3. It is not biblical to “name your seed” in an offering. Hagin was horrified by this practice, which was popularized in faith conferences during the 1980s. Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. Hagin rejected this idea and said that focusing on what you are going to receive “corrupts the very attitude of our giving nature.”

4. The “hundredfold return” is not a biblical concept. Hagin did the math and figured out that if this bizarre notion were true, “we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” He rejected the popular teaching that a believer should claim a specific monetary payback rate.

5. Preachers who claim to have a “debt-breaking” anointing should not be trusted. Hagin was perplexed by ministers who promise “supernatural debt cancellation” to those who give in certain offerings. He wrote in The Midas Touch: “There is not one bit of Scripture I know about that validates such a practice. I’m afraid it is simply a scheme to raise money for the preacher, and ultimately it can turn out to be dangerous and destructive for all involved.”

(Many evangelists who appear on Christian television today use this bogus claim. Usually they insist that the miraculous debt cancellation will occur only if a person “gives right now,” as if the anointing for this miracle suddenly evaporates after the prime time viewing hour. This manipulative claim is more akin to witchcraft than Christian belief.)

Hagin condemned other hair brained gimmicks designed to trick audiences into emptying their wallets. He was especially incensed when a preacher told his radio listeners that he would take their prayer requests to Jesus’ empty tomb in Jerusalem and pray over them there—if donors included a special love gift. “What that radio preacher really wanted was more people to send in offerings,” Hagin wrote.

Thanks to the recent resurgence in bizarre donation schemes promoted by American charismatics, the prosperity gospel is back under the nation’s microscope. It’s time to revisit Hagin’s concerns and find a biblical balance.

Hagin told his followers: “Overemphasizing or adding to what the Bible actually teaches invariably does more harm than good.” If the man who pioneered the modern concept of biblical prosperity blew the whistle on his own movement, wouldn’t it make sense for us to listen to his admonition?

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. The Midas Touch is available from Kenneth Hagin Ministries at rhema.org.