Welcome to the God Galleria

Update: I was on Sharon's blog and she had a post on tithing so I thought I'd bring this one back. Besides, I'm working on a new Friday's Top Ten and I'm not too interested what's going on in the world. I'm also in a nice debate on Rebecca's blog about movies. - Peace

There was a picture on the wall of my grandmother’s bedroom of a shoreline at dusk. In the sand there was a set of footprints in the sand. Superimposed in the picture was a poem call “Footprints”. I’m sure almost everyone is familiar with the poem. Basically, a man has a dream that he is walking with God on the beach and he turns to see the footprints in the sand. On several occasions, he notices that there is only one set of footprints. Those coincided with the times where he was at his lowest. The Lord explains that where he sees one set of footprints, those were the times that He carried him. The moral of the story, as my grandmother explained it to, is that we look to God to get us through our darkest moments.

Subsequent teaching from my grandmother taught me that we serve in such a way that our lives become a testimony. By being in the presence of the Lord, we find a way to walk through this life and conquer all obstacles that come before us. Whenever my grandmother was facing tough times, she would always recite the verse, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.” So my basic Sunday school teaching came down to this: You thank God when things are good. You praise him when things are bad. And if there is anything that you need, you just wait on Him, because he will provide. In my youth, God was always referred to as though He was a loving father. So when did he become a vendor?

Many people today treat getting closer to God like going to Macy’s with a gift card. I was listening to Creflo Dollar one night and the man is a brilliant speaker. But I just wasn’t feeling him on some of the things he preaches. I had to go back and find the transcript to the sermon:




Now, last night we began to deal with the relationship between peace and prosperity, and we found out that the Hebrew word for "peace" is the word "shalom," and that word means "wholeness, completeness, nothing missing and nothing broken." And we read, and we'll look at it again tonight, it says "my soul is far from prosperity." Why? "Because my soul's far from peace because I forgot prosperity." We established last night that you are not whole until you get your money. Amen. Amen
This is what Creflo Dollar is about. But he is not the only one that preaches and believes this. I’ve heard many brothers speak on prosperity and how God didn’t intend for his followers to live without. The verse, “You have not because you ask not”, is the precursor for getting everything you want from God. In a sense, we have gone from servants to patrons, walking though the Lord’s house picking out the beautiful bounty deserved in return for believing in Him. I am no theologian, but with the verse, “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do," I don't think the writer was talking about monetary prosperity, but this is the context in which he used it.

There are two versus in the Bible that I believe debunk all of the ‘get my goods from God’ movement.


Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mathew 6:19-21

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25



At one point in his sermon he referred to Hebrew 11:1. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Which he interprets as meaning having faith means you can have anything you want; which goes back to the, “You have not because you ask not” verse. I know people that believe that prosperity is owed to them because of their faith.

My opinion is that these men have to preach this since they are taking the money from church coffers to finance their lavish lifestyles. It would be hard to tell the congregation to sacrifice when the preacher is jet-setting around the world and rolling in a $300,000 vehicle.

Now the Lord knows I could use some extra money in my life. Considering the cost of housing in LA, I could use a couple of million in the bank. If God paid for conversation with him, I should have at least earned a BMW Five Series by now. And according to men like Creflo Dollar, I don’t have these things because I’m not close enough to God. Well, I was taught that you can’t just do good deeds and get into heaven and you certainly can’t buy your way there. So, I highly doubt that God is in the business of purchasing our faith. There are a lot of people in church waiting for the Lord to give them the riches of the earth in exchange for their praise. Heck, He gave us His son… you would think that would be enough. Go figure.

 

19 Responses to Welcome to the God Galleria

  1. kansasscott Says:
    Great insight. I actually like Creflo, there are some things he's said that have really opened my eyes to the truths in Scripture. But. . . the prosperity thing is a little much. I do believe God desires us to prosper, but that is so much more than money. And, your quote from Matthew 6 about having your treasure and heart in the same place is a good one, and does put prosperity in perspective. My prosperity is to bless others, not horde it for myself. I enjoyed your observations, especially the last line!
  2. Dell Gines Says:
    Word, that whole prosperity gig is so jacked. I think some of them mean well but they take it to far.
  3. James Manning Says:
    Scott,

    Thanks for commenting. I'm not a Creflo basher but his focus kind of bothers me. Like Dell said, some take it a bit too far. I think he is just one of many.

    I do kind of think he's a crook from some other things that I've been reading - but there are a lot of preachers that fall into that camp. I'll have to deal with that one another day.
  4. Zeezy4Sheezy Says:
    He shouldn't thank god for all his blessings he should be thanking Evander Holyfield since he duped him out of all his money and the reason why his old ass is still trying to fight people at 44 yrs old
  5. Malik Says:
    The idea that God is a power that we wield in order to fulfill our desires, rather than a force that guides us to fulfill His own purpose, is one that profoundly disturbs me. As far as I know, the only way we can have any influence in this life is to align ourselves with His will. Even then, we are not a source, but a channel.
  6. Rashid Muhammad Says:
    Evander's numerous out-of-wedlock progeny probably have a little to do with his financial straits as well.

    Well said Malik.
  7. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    03 08 06

    I think I have mentioned this before. It is called the "prosperity gospel" and it focuses more on self actualization and materialism than the WORD>
  8. Bullfrog Says:
    I have heard alot of "Pastors" teach about prosperity in this way. Obviously, there is a serious problem here with context. Some even believe Jesus and the disciples were wealthy, despite the fact He had "nowhere to lay his head", according to the Bible (Matthew 8:20).

    Those of Jesus time were of this same mindset and believed material wealth was a sign of God's blessing, while poverty proved otherwise. The disciples suprised reaction to Jesus' assertion that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven"(Matthew 19:24) reflects this belief.
  9. Sharon Says:
    James,
    Thanks for the re-posting of this post and the link to my blog...You hit on several topics that I spend a lot of time thinking about.

    As I read your post, so many of the comments were so meaningful that if I had copied and pasted them, I would have ended up copying and pasting the entire post :)

    One point that I did not tackle in my post but that has always cause me much consternation, you articulated well:

    **Now the Lord knows I could use some extra money in my life. Considering the cost of housing in LA, I could use a couple of million in the bank. If God paid for conversation with him, I should have at least earned a BMW Five Series by now. And according to men like Creflo Dollar, I don’t have these things because I’m not close enough to God. Well, I was taught that you can’t just do good deeds and get into heaven and you certainly can’t buy your way there.

    This is the impression I get from so many who are "in church" and claim to be tithing. I am not "in church" and do not "tithe" by any commonly or religiously acceptable means, but I KNOW I am blessed and believe with all my heart that God is pleased! I find it very hard to believe that God is interested in whether or not I am in a church, or tithe 10%, or any of those things. You hear all the time that God knows your heart, and believing this to be true, I know that I am covered whether or not I ever attend church, and/or tithe there again. I am amazed though by those who say "God knows your heart" and then take this view that wealthy ministers' wealth is a measure of God's satisfaction with what they are doing. Am I not wealthy b/c God is displeased with me? Are the homeless without shelter b/c universally, they are unworthy of God's grace or due to their own inability or unwillingness to be closer to God they are being ignored by Him? Once again, I ask, "Do ministers tithe?" [Now you done done it! I'ma have to post on this issue now...]

    I'm new to this computer stuff, but I wish I knew how to link your post to mine...I'm going to go try b/c I think you have the other part of the story so to speak!

    Thanks again, and give Jaimie my best...tell her I love her blog, short, sweet, and to the point. I'm so long-winded, that I don't comment much there because I'm afraid my comments will be longer than her posts (HAHAHAHAHAHA). However, I stop through every day!
  10. James Manning Says:
    I'll let her know that... since my post are long winded rants, I welcome comments that are long winded as well.
  11. NEO, SOC Says:
    James, I am a theologian and I can tell you that Creflo is way off! He is part of a cult-like group within Christianity called the "Word-Faith Movement". Kenneth Copeland & Family, Fred Price & Son, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyers, Paul & Jan Crouch, Kenyon, Duplantis and many of the nuts on religious tv is in the same mindset. If you want good, objective information on Dollar and the Word Faith movement, go to CRI.

    But, as a clarification: Dollar and his comrades are so focused on the what is on the Master's table that they have lost site of the Master. Plus, the theology they're pushing is arrogant and contradicting. They borrow a lot of the ideology from eastern pagan religions. It is a sad discourse in that they could take the monies they have and reinvest it into a community in great need.

    Plus, if their theology was actually correct, they would have no need of troubling us for money because they should have an over abundance of it.
  12. James Manning Says:
    Neo, I've always been a little suspicious of Creflo Dollar and TD Jakes. I guess they didn't sound like my grandmother. Since she is the person I most associate with Christianity, red lights go off when I hear something that doesn't align with her teaching and my understanding from my own studies. Not that neither one of couldn't be wrong, but I start with the premise that I have a decent understanding of the bible.
  13. nikki Says:
    i live in atlanta where creflo's church resides and i don't attend it. too big and too commercialized for my tastes, although there are ALOT of folk here who dig it.

    a former member told me she had lost her job and hadn't given her tithes for a couple of months. then she gets a call from someone at the church wondering why she hadn't given any money (it was coming out of her account.)

    she said it was cuz she ain't have a job. meanwhile, she left the church because that whole exchange left a bad taste in her mouth.
  14. James Manning Says:
    Nikki,

    It just seems like that. Rather than focus in on her needs, they went for the loot. Just like I expected. I have a friend that believes that because he is a Christian, he is suppose to be a millionaire. He's still broke.

    I really beleive people get caught up in the glitz and glamour of the church and for get to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

    At no point in time are we to take what the preacher says as the last word. Thanks for the input on this.
  15. DJ Diva Says:
    see i believe in tithing...I don't hae a problem with it in my church...I know where the money goes....My church owns 20 Million dollars of property here in Harlem...and it is all renovated and serves to help the church members and the community....It's not just faith...like oh I'ma ask God and He just gonna send it to me...No It's I'll Pray About It and work toward that goal....You don't have to have money like Gates or Trump to be rich...just how much would it take? You would never have enough...that's why the Bible says you shouldn't be chasing a dollar...It says "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added unto you"...That's where the primary concern is..

    False prophets are everywhere...because I believe in what I believe...I don't follow a whole bunch of different people....basically just my Bishop and my COGIC faith....and he preaches the prosperity message too....it just comes true where I go to church...because along with the preaching of prosperity...they help you find out how to get it...60% of the people in my church either have an advanced degrees or are in school to get them...or are working in or operating businesses originally funded by the church...this includes those who have recovered from alcoholism...drugs etc....so we as a church experience our increase...and we do it by faith...and hard work...

    My Bishop was a Garbage man until he retired....his wife a school teacher ...so no...I didn't begrudge him his BMW at all...and since my church is open 7 days a week...providing the children with afterschool...the seniors a place to leave their homes and spend time with like minded people...and most importantly a place to pray ..hold service...and to praise the Lord 7 days a week? I have absolutely no problem paying my tithes to help run the place.
  16. bold as love Says:
    Peace,
    I live about 10 miles from Creepio Dollar's church. The amazing thing about it is he has bought up all the surrounding real estate, what used to be whole shopping centers now fall under his domain. I still do not see a positive effect on the community, I avoid the area after dark.
    The Atlanta metro area seems to be the ultimate place for these Mega churches, we have more than our share.
    later'
  17. Diane S. Says:
    Preach it, James! (I was going to say brother, but would you find that offensive from a white chick?)

    The whole Gospel of Prosperity just makes my head spin like that little girl in the exorcists. Jesus Christ is not a get rich quick scheme. It makes me feel like the money changers are back in the temple.

    My sister, on the other-hand, eats this stuff up. She goes around her house casting out the spirit of poverty in Jesus' name. Now, I have more than a nodding acquaintance with the New Testament, and Jesus cast out a lot of spirits, but none of them were poverty.

    To your scripture, may I add some of my own?

    Mat 19:24 And I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

    Rom 14:11 For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

    Creflo, Kenneth, Paula, (ad nauseum), just what part of that did you not get?

    Now, don't get me wrong. I think most of these preachers are sincere. I do not think they are running a scam. I just think they are wrong.

    When I got saved, Jesus made one promise to me. One. That he would never forsake me. He did not promise me my life would be easy. He did not promise me freedom from suffering. He did not promise me prosperity. He promised me that whatever happened, I would not have to go through it alone, and that if I was faithful to repent and confess my sins, I would be forgiven.
  18. James Manning Says:
    DJ,

    I see nothing wrong with financially supporting your church. But I don't equate tithes to salvation, faith or one's financial status.

    Diane,

    Thanks for the comment. I think people get caught up in the prosperity talk because who wants to wait until they die to get their reward?
  19. Peace Says:
    The problem is in how he is defining prosperity. There are 2 definitions: n 1: an economic state of growth with rising profits and full employment 2: the condition of prospering; having good fortune. I think the Bible was referring to having good fortune (i.e. being happy, feeling free, and fulfilled) not financial properity. Everyone knows that money alone cannot make you truly happy. I have major issues with folks like Creflo that I won't go into now... I think that his words can be inspirational and can lead people to Christ, but we can't hang on EVERY word. Be selective - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it makes you feel uncomfortable - rethink it.
    Peace