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Archive for the ‘Mammon’ Category

from Got Questions:

In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith Movement,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term of prosperity gospel teachers is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, prosperity teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the prosperity gospel emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

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These ravening wolves are never satisfied even as many of their followers are living paycheck to paycheck!

from Fox News:

Louisiana-based televangelist is asking his followers to donate money for a $54 million jet that can “go anywhere in the world in one stop,” The Times-Picayune reported.

Jesse Duplantis, 68, a Christian minister based in Destrehan, about 25 miles east of New Orleans, says his ministry has paid cash for three private jets.

“You know I’ve owned three different jets in my life and used them and used them and just burning them up for the Lord,” Duplantis says in a video posted to his ministries’ website.

Duplantis is now reportedly seeking the funds for a Dassault Falcon 7X, worth $54 million.

The problem with the previous jets, he says, is that they require multiple stops to refuel. But flying the Falcon 7X, Duplantis says, will allow him to save money and not pay “those exorbitant prices with jet fuel all over the world.”

“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” Duplantis says in the video, “He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”

Duplantis’ video comes after another televangelist, Kenneth Copeland in Texas, purchased the Gulfstream V jet for $36 million.

Both televangelists defended their use of private jets during a joint appearance on Copeland’s program, saying that commercial airlines filled with “a bunch of demons” that get in the way of their busy schedules.

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So it begs the question: Even if Kirbyjon Caldwell was not actively involved in the scam, what is a pastor doing being involved in the sale of Chinese Bonds to poor people?

from The Daily Mail:

A Houston megachurch pastor and a Louisiana financial planner were indicted on Thursday for orchestrating a $3.5million fraud.

According to the federal indictment, Kirbyjon Caldwell and Gregory Alan Smith used their ‘influence and status’ to lure dozens of ‘vulnerable and elderly’ people to invest in worthless Republic of China bonds.

The bonds were issued after World War II, but became worthless when the Communists took over the country in 1949, kicking out the old government who issued the bonds. Their only value today is as collectibles.

Prosecutors say Calwell, the head of the 14,000-member Windsor Village United Methodish Church, and Smith, the operator and manager of Smith Financial Group LLC, knew the bonds held no value but sold them anyway and then used the money to fund their expensive lifestyles.

The duo are said to have cheated 29 investors out of $3.5million between April 2013 and April 2014. Some of these investors put their whole life savings at stake on the bonds.

Caldwell used his money to pay the mortgage on his Houston home, which according to public records is worth more than $2.5million (if found guilty, he may have to forfeit the home). Smith on the other hand, used the money to buy luxury vehicles, the indictment reveals.

The two promised their investors returns of three to 15 times in a matter of weeks, and when the money never materialized, they made up elaborate excuses.

According to the filings, Caldwell ‘used religious references to give investors hope they would soon be repaid’ telling them to ‘remain faithful’.

Smith, 55, who boasts years of experience as a financial planner, allegedly convinced people to invest by saying that the bonds were ‘risk free’ and ‘guaranteed’ and that he himself had invested $250,000.

Although many investors did not understand the investment, they ultimately trusted Smith and took comfort in the fact that a high-profile pastor was offering the investment,’ the complaint reads.

Caldwell, 64, gained notoriety through his relationship with former President George W. Bush.

The two connected when Bush was governor of Texas, and Caldwell became his spiritual adviser. He later gave the benedictions at both of Bush’s inaugurations and officiated Jenna Bush’s wedding in 2008.

He denied the claims at a Friday press conference with his attorney, Dan Cogdell.

Cogdell told reporters that his client is ‘100% not guilty’ and that they have proof Caldwell thought the bonds were legitimate.

‘The accusations are simply false,’ Cogdell said. ‘At no time did the pastor conspire with anyone.’

They say that Caldwell himself invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money in hopes of reinvesting the gains back into the church. Caldwell added that none of the people he got to invest in the bonds were members of his church.

‘These bonds are legitimate,’ Caldwell said. ‘The process is legitimate. I fully maintain that the accusation is baseless.’

Neither Caldwell or his attorney would comment on Smith.

Caldwell plans to turn himself into authorities in Louisiana in the next seven to 10 days.

The two men are facing six counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the indictment filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana.

The Securities and Exchange Commission have also accused the two men of nine violations.

Caldwell and Smith face up to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $1million if convicted.

Bishop Scott J. Jones of the United Methodist Church released this statement after Caldwell’s indictment on Thursday.

‘Kirbyjon Caldwell has been an outstanding pastor and leader in our community for over 30 years. The United Methodist Church has high standards for the moral conduct of its clergy, and we recognize the seriousness of the charges against him. We will walk though this difficult situation with Rev. Caldwell and the Windsor Village congregation and keep them in our prayers. We have faith that the judicial process will find the truth.’

Caldwell is also a limited partner in the Houston Texans, which also responded to the scandal.

‘We have recently been made aware of a report involving Kirbyjon Caldwell. We are gathering more information and will have no further comment at this time,’ the baseball team said in a statement.

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from The “Christian” Post:

Popular televangelist Paula White is urging her followers to donate a “first fruits” offering of up to their entire salary for the month of January to enjoy “blessings” for the rest of the year or suffer the “consequences” of failing to follow God’s command.

“Each January, I put God first and honor Him with the first of our substance by sowing a first fruits offering of one month’s pay. That is a big sacrifice, but it is a seed for the harvest I am believing for in the coming year. And God always provides!” White explains on her website.

She explained the difference between the tithe, usually 10 percent of earnings, and the first fruit donation.

“The difference between tithe and first fruit, first fruit is all of it,” she told congregants at the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “All of what? Well, if you want to bring God all of one day’s salary, one week’s salary or one month’s salary, that’s between you and God. … I try to bring a month’s salary, but at the very least every year I give God a week’s salary.”

And many of her followers join her in the first fruits campaign with “miraculous” results, she says.

“Every year many others join us and sow a month’s pay, a week’s pay, others give a day’s pay, but everyone gives their best — the results are miraculous! First Fruits has impacted my life personally and the lives of countless others! But First Fruits is more than just an offering, it’s a principle,” she says, that is ordained by God.

“God claims the FIRST of ALL THINGS! It rightfully belongs to Him. When we apply the Principle of First Fruits, we see that all firsts should be given to the Lord: the first of the day, week (Sabbath), month, and the first of our harvest — be it the wages for the first day, week, or the month,” she explains.

White, who also serves as President Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser, lays out in detail on her website how the principle of first fruits “supernaturally unlocks amazing opportunity, blessing, favor and divine order for your life” and how God requires His people to honor it.

“It is the basis or underlying support for your success in 2018. It is GOD’S PRINCIPLE OF FIRST FRUITS. All Firsts belong to God. When you honor this principle it provides the foundation and structure for God’s blessings and promises in your life, it unlocks deep dimensions of spiritual truths that literally transform your life! When you apply this everything comes in divine alignment for His plan and promises for you. When you don’t honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience there are consequences,” White warns.

She then suggests that the consequence could be “struggle” and giving a first fruits offering can help protect donors from it.

“The Bible says, ‘On one particular Sabbath, while teaching in a Synagogue, Jesus healed a woman that had a ‘spirit of infirmity’ which had bent her over for 18 years!’ That which has plagued you IS REBUKED AND DONE FROM YOUR LIFE NOW. 2018 is a year of life and deliverance from struggle. It begins right now with First Fruits,” she states.

She also notes, “It doesn’t mean you can dictate or manipulate what’s going to happen in July or August but it means this, that you have put God first in every aspect of this year.”

White’s church tweeted in support of the campaign Tuesday. But not everyone is convinced that this is how God intended the principle of first fruits to work.

“The concept of biblical first fruits is real, but as I read your article I can’t help but feel as though you’re being manipulative. Laying the foundation for first fruits and then launching into a ‘financial seed’ campaign seems to be a misuse/abuse of the biblical intention,” Christian mom Heather Norton told White on Twitter Tuesday morning.

CompellingTruth.org, an outreach effort by a group of trained Christian experts at Got Questions Ministries, agrees. While some preachers today use the concept to encourage their parishioners to give an offering above and beyond tithing, the Bible does not support it as a requirement for Christians.

“The problem is, the first fruits offering was for the Jews for a specific purpose. Nowhere does the New Testament mention that the church is required or even encouraged to give a ‘first fruits offering.’ Like tithing, giving to the church is left up to the personal convictions of the individual believer. There is no blanket policy for giving,” the group explains.

“This presumes that the work of God be understood in a dispensational manner instead of following the teaching of replacement theology. Replacement theology teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan for the world. All of the promises God gave Israel (including material blessings for obedience) are transferred to the church. Dispensational theology claims that God gave Israel and the church different promises, and many of Israel’s promises will not come to fruition until the millennial kingdom. It is the belief of this ministry that dispensational theology best interprets the Scriptures. The church cannot claim all the promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament,” the experts argue.

They note, however, that giving a first fruits offering is acceptable as long as it comes from the believer’s personal conviction and “not pressured by church leadership.”

“The ways in which churches use the phrase (and the practice) vary in theological truth. To say that ‘laying down a seed’ so that God will make someone rich, or that you can pay off God to bless future plans, is an abusive lie from adherents of the prosperity gospel. To give sacrificially is to follow in the example of the widow of Mark 12:41-44, and is commendable as long as it isn’t coerced. To give an offering in thanks that God provided is perfectly acceptable. But if a church wants to have a period of fund-raising, it would be better to have a specific purpose and not just try to spiritualize the desire to have more capital in the bank,” they further explain.

 

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From The Resurgent:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  Matthew 6:24

1,984 years ago this week, the world put God on trial. When offered a choice, the world surrendered up God to be tortured, crucified, and killed and asked that Pontius Pilate free the criminal Barabbas instead. The very same people who welcomed Christ into Jerusalem as a King at the beginning of the week, screamed for his crucifixion by the end of the week.

There is no compromise between Christ and the world. Young evangelicals, complacent in the United States and largely left alone, would do wise to remember this. Christians who side with Mammon should remember that Mamon sided with Barabbas.

Read surveys on millennials in churches and most of the surveys suggest these millennials are giving up on or making peace with abortion and gay marriage. The young are tempted to compromise with the world — to split the baby in an effort to love Jesus and be at least liked by the world. The cause of life and marriage has been replaced with opposition to human trafficking. The latter is a noble cause and one I have long championed. But for many, they pick up that cause because there is no one who really opposes it. It gives some Christians the luxury of being against something, without anyone being against them.

Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. Joe Carter has a great read on this from a few years ago.

Joe is right. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.

What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years ago today, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.

Many young evangelicals who are making the decision that certain sins conflict with their personal beliefs, but they’re otherwise okay with the sin and will leave it alone. They are making a compromise to avoid conflict and be liked by the world. “I’m not one of those Christians,” they think and often say.

They want to be liked. They want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world. They view Christians who are seen as too hostile to others as inferior in spreading the Gospel or too judgmental. They fall victim to the sin of pride that their gospel is greater.

They’ll nod approvingly to the lyrics of Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” saying, “Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did.”

Unfortunately for them, they’ll be hated anyway, even if they don’t realize it.

The Casting Crowns song, which is all over Christian stations, contains this lyric: “The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”

Christ was very clear on this.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.

Evangelicals have a tough time on the issue of gay rights and younger Christians on abortion and other issues. If we hold to our convictions, we’re accused of hating. If we point out that sex outside of marriage is a sin, including among people of the same sex, we’re accused of saying they’re going to hell. If we point out the Biblical standard, even admitting we all fall short of the glory of God, we are accused of judging and, therefore, of being a hypocrite.

Christians are called to love their neighbors. Loving their neighbors does not mean turning a blind eye to their sin, or giving tacit approval to sin. Christians should want no one to go to hell. But we’ve arrived at a point where should we even mention this, we’re accused of saying folks are going to hell.

We must live our lives with love toward everyone and be friends to all who are open to being friends. But we should not delude ourselves. At some point the world will make us choose. And if we choose Christ the world will accuse us of hating, condemning, and judging. The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin. The world believes we cannot love the sinner if we do not fully affirm them, which means loving, or at least tolerating or accepting, their sin.

If we truly love our neighbor we must pray for their repentance, not accept their sin. If they tell us God made them that way, we must know that we were all born sinners. God didn’t do it. Our fallen nature did. The struggle with sin in the process of sanctification leads us closer to God. Those who revel in sin do not draw close. We don’t need to preach at them or condemn them. We need to love them and live relationally with them using our our stumbling toward Jesus as a way, hopefully, to also draw our friends to Jesus.

The chorus of the Casting Crowns song includes the line, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.” Christ’s heart breaks for all the fallen. Many Christians though are not believed when they confess their hearts break toward those who do not even recognize their sin.

Christians are accused of judging and casting stones, as the lyrics of that song claim, when all they are doing is not shying away from the fact that God sets standards. He may say to cast no stones, but he concludes with “go and sin no more.” Young evangelicals have bought into the notion that by proclaiming the standards of the Bible they are judging. They seek accommodation and given tacit approval to sin lest they be accused of judging or casting stones.

There is no accommodation on this issue with the world. Young evangelicals and others are deluded if they think they can seek a compromise with the world.  The world will not let you compromise.  The world will make you care.

Mammon chose Barabbas and too many young evangelicals are choosing Mammon. One day, if they remain faithful to Christ, they, you, and me will be made to care.

 

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from The Daily Mail:

Born the daughter of a minister in Georgia, Janice Crouch grew up among all the trappings of the church and a life of holy devotion.

But before she passed away yesterday, days after suffering a massive stroke at her Florida home, the 78-year-old lived a life of enormous wealth funded by her Evangelical TV empire.

Alongside her husband Paul, Crouch preached to millions of viewers on a weekly basis, promising them wealth if only they would open up their own pockets and donate to her.

Using that money the couple bought adjoining mansions in Florida, jets worth almost $60 million and a $100,000 mobile home just to house Janice’s dogs, according to a lawsuit filed in 2012

In a lawsuit filed by granddaughter Brittany Koper after she was sacked from her position as the couple’s accountant, they were accused of receiving $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses, as well as the use of chauffeurs.

Koper’s lawsuit, reported by the New York Times, also claimed that staff members at the network, including sound engineers and chauffeurs, were ordained as ministers so their salaries could be tax exempt.

This also made it easier for the Couches to claim their 13 mansions as ‘parsonages’, also exempting them from a good deal of state and federal taxes.

Koper added: ‘My job as finance director was to find ways to label extravagant personal spending as ministry expenses.’

Janice, or ‘Momma Jan’ as she became known, also founded the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, a bizarre theme park that she took to overseeing personally.

Troy Clements, a former executive at the park, said that Janice’s belief that she was doing the Lord’s work led her to justify extravagant spending on personal whims.

Clements told the New York Times that he was once forced to remodel a cafe on site three times in six weeks.

When Janice was challenged on the behavior, she simply responded: ‘No one has told me “no” for 30 years, and you’re not going to start now.’

Clements also said that, when she began the remodeling project, she rented two rooms at the adjacent Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in order to be close to the project.

One room, he said, was for her – while the other housed her two Maltese dogs along with her clothes. The rooms were rented for two years, he added.

Read the full article here.

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from Got Questions:

In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

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