Thursday, October 28, 2010

God Needs Your Money To Continue This Blog


There is a man who wakes up in a king sized bed one morning and showers in his bathroom that has his five thousand dollar toilet seat.  He then gets in his luxury car (or has a limo pick him up) to take him to a small airport that houses his private jet.  He boards that private jet with bodyguards and a full production team and whisks off to some faraway land.  In that land, he and his team check into a luxury hotel where the man dresses into a suit that costs thousands of dollars and works with his makeup artist and stylist to get his look just right.  He then takes a convoy out to a poverty stricken village where his cameraman readies his multi-thousand dollar camera and the videos the man crying next to a poor child saying that God's work needs your money or that child may starve.  Does anyone else see what is wrong with that picture? 

There is another man that lived who name was George Mueller.  Here is his account.
A man named George Mueller, who lived in Bristol England in the early 1800’s, was called by God to care for orphans. He was an amazing man of faith. He read the scripture in Psalms 68:5 that says God is a father of the fatherless. He believed that if God was truly the father to orphans, all he had to do was to make himself available to care for the orphans and God would supply every need. So that’s what he did. He first opened his own home, and used what money he had to feed and clothe them. One morning, his wife told him that there was absolutely nothing in the kitchen for the children to eat. He gathered the children around the table for breakfast as he always did. The table was obviously bare, but he prayed to the Lord and thanked Him for the food that they would receive for breakfast. When he finished praying they all sat there for a few moments with their empty plates in front of them. In just minutes, there was a knock at the door. It was a man who owned a bakery. He told Mr. Mueller that before he had gone to bed the night before, the Holy Spirit told him that Mr. Mueller and the orphans had no food for breakfast, so he got out of bed at 4:00am and went to his bakery to bake fresh bread for the orphanage. Now while this conversation was going on, a milk truck passing by, suddenly broke down. The driver tried to fix the truck quickly but could not, so he went to Mr. Mueller standing on his porch to ask him if he could use some milk as he needed to unload the truck so that he work on it. So God miraculously provided.  As God increased his faith Mr. Mueller built homes and cared for more and more children. At his death, he was caring for over 2,000 children everyday!  Mr. Mueller never told anyone of his needs for his orphanage, his church, or his own personal needs.  -- Source: White Stone Ministries
I hope that we all see what is right in the example of George Mueller. 

After that rather long intro, today I want to talk about churches that constantly pander for money.  I want to preface this by saying that I do believe that the Word of God is clear in that we do need to support our churches.  God does not need our money, but God has given us the responsibility of providing for our pastors and the various other requirements for the work of the church (rent, utilities, etc).  I also believe the church has the responsibility before God to be good stewards of that money and to use it in accordance with His example and guidance.  I do not believe that a church should pander for money using threats of God needing it or the work of God ceasing because He does not have enough of it. 

The first thing I want to address is that God does not need money and to say so shows a real misunderstanding of just who God is.  Saying that God requires our money is saying that we can give something to God.  It is saying that we have something that God does not have.  It is saying that God relies on us.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Whatever bit of material worth we have was provided to us by God.  Giving to God is not really giving at all, but returning.  We are returning to God what God has given us.  The Bible is filled with examples of God giving increase and God taking it away.  God is our provider.  We need to believe that as individual Christians, and ministers need to believe that in terms of their ministry. 
"For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:32-33 NKJV
This verse, I believe, applies just as much to churches as it does to individuals.  God knows the needs of our ministries and God will meet those needs. Going to the church body to pander for those needs is not seeking God first and allowing Him to provide, but trusting in your own ability to guilt people into giving.  If the work be of God, that work will get done.  God's work will not suffer for lack of funding.  That brings me to my next point.  For God to work what is required is faith, not money.
When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? nd His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.  Matthew 13:54-58 NKJV
The hindrance for the work of God is a lack of faith.  If a pastor does not believe God can provide, then God will not provide.  The example of Mueller was one of faith where he never had to pander to anyone.  He had faith that God had called him to that work and so would provide, and God did provide.  If a pastor is pandering for money, that pastor is lacking faith.  He may preach faith and giving in faith and God not working because of their lack of faith in giving, but who is really lacking in faith is him.  Direction on when and what to give us a function of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the church members, it is not a function of a clever pastor playing on guilt.   He may provide the means for God to provide such as an offering if so led, but he would not have to pander. 

The next issue with pandering is accountability.  The example I gave is one showing how wasteful some of these ministries are.  God has provided a tremendous amount of funding that was squandered on needless luxuries.  This is made worse in that those perks are generally provided by the ministry and not as part of a salary.  When you give to these ministries, you are giving to wasteful earthly treasures.  You are not giving to the work of God at all.  Think about the example that I gave.  That village could have been fed for years on the useless luxuries in that minister's life.  I am not saying that a Christian can not be rich, but to live in the lap of luxury while crying that there is not enough money to help the poor is beyond disgraceful.  Another example is a ministry I personally gave a modest donation to when they came to my church at that time for a demonstration.  I daresay that they spent more money than what I gave them in phone calls and letters for the next year or two asking for even more money.  That is not being a good steward at all.  
And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. " Luke 12:42-25 NKJV
Remember, those ministers are stewards are responsible for what God has given them.  That provision was for the work of the kingdom and not luxurious living.  If a minister is pandering for money, it may not just be a lack of faith, but a lack of accountability.  He may very well be wasteful in what God has provided to him.  The wasteful minister will be held to account.
"And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. " Luke 12:47-48 NKJV
The last reason I want to get into regarding a pastor pandering for money is him doing a work that is not of God. Sometimes those may actually even be "good" things from our point of view, but they are not what God has ordained.  Doing something not in the will of God, even if we think it is something we are doing for God, is not going to be supported by God.  God will not support our plans if those plans are not of Him. God will not support a ministry that He has not appointed. 

Sometimes those ministers started out serving God and God gave them great provision and they had great faith, but somewhere along the line they went astray.  They began to trust in those riches instead of God and they squandered that provision of God on themselves.  This reminds me of Israel when they reached the Promised Land for the first time and out of fear they refused to enter and take the land.  God took that command to take the land away and ordered them back into wandering in the wilderness.  Do not think that God may have taken the calling from those ministries for their lack of faith and accountability.  Those ministers may try to continue but then it is on their own strength and when they see God is not providing for them, they get desperate and pander all the more.  God is not with them and so their needs will never be satisfied.  They will ultimately fail.

Here is what happened when Israel tried to act without God being with them (and this story is played out over and over again throughout the historical books of the Old Testament).
"And the LORD said to me, 'Tell them, "Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies."' So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain. And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. Deuteronomy 1:42-44 NKJV
God does not need our money for His work to go forth.  Do not ever believe that.  What God needs is our faith.  Many times that faith means giving of what God has given us, but even then that is conviction from within and not guilt from an outside motivator.  If we refuse to listen, God will just find someone else to give and we will be under His conviction for our failure to be obedient and someone else will be blessed for their obedience.  Money is another example of how we need to be like children before God.  Children have no means to earn money and so their parents provide all their needs. Many times those children want to give a gift to their parents and so those parents mercifully give them money to go "buy" them something.  Good children cheerfully and lovingly spend that money trying to get something really special for mom or dad.   In reality. it was mom or dad that purchased the gift.  The child got to share in that work, though, by spending what was given to them out of love for their parents.  May we have that same heart with God.  God does not need our money because He is the one who gave it to us in the first place.  What we use for God's work is part of that special relationship we have with God where we get to be a part of His work.  That is another reason why pandering is such a bad thing because it takes from that intimate relationship where you giving is part of your relationship with God. It makes it about the church or the pastor and not just between you and God.  This same metaphor applies to ministers who squander God's provision for ministry on luxury.  Maybe that child was not a good child.  Maybe he or she asked for the money and when shopping saw something that he wanted and he spent all or part of the money meant for mom or dad's gift on something for himself.  That child would be rightfully disciplined as will be by God if we squander His provision. 

God does not want a guilty giver.  God does not want someone who gives grudgingly or out of obligation.  God does not want someone giving money to a ministry not appointed by God.  And God does not want you giving your money to a ministry that squanders His money.  God loves a cheerful giver to a good steward of the Lord's work on earth.  God does not want it to be a show or in such a way to puff up our own pride as a person, church, or pastor.  Remember the 2 examples I started with.  One example is an example of a man who has squandered what God has provided and asks for more.  He guilts people into giving and brags about how much God has provided but of course through him.  It is a fake humility and they are the ones who wrongfully get the glory.  The other example, George Muller, is how things should be.  Mueller did not ask for anything from man but only from God.  He had faith in God and God alone and through that faith God provided.  He did not and could not take any glory for what God provided and we are hearing the story of the example of his faith.  Not as many people have heard of George Mueller as they have heard of others like Joyce Meyers and that is because Joyce Meyers is a story about Joyce Meyers whereas George Mueller is a story about God.  I will finish with an account of how Paul dealt with the offering he received for his ministry. 
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:15-19 NKJV 

2 comments:

  1. I had never heard of George Mueller, thanks for sharing his story. I totally agree re: pastors or ministries who are always begging for $ (sort of like a certain local 'family safe and kid friendly' radio station that plays Christian music).

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