Friday, April 20, 2012

Your Like a Tree Firmly Planted Prayer Rug Can Be Worth Over 1000 Trillion Dollars!

Yesterday I received some interesting mail.  I received a prayer rug from Saint Matthews church.  I am sure we have all received them at one time or another.  It was not addressed to me or my wife, just to someone who lives in our home (literally that is what is said).  I opened the mail to find my fold out prayer "rug" imprinted with a picture of Jesus with trick eyes that apear to open if you stare at it long enough.  According to the letter that accompanied the "rug" (which is more like a poster considering it is made out of paper), that is to signify Jesus looking at us.  Along with the letter, there was a form to fill out including a section where you check off what items you would like prayer for.  There is money (including a blank line to enter an amount), cars (make and model), homes, jobs, and tucked in the middle there is even a box marked "Salvation."  There was also a pamphlet inside advertising that one lucky woman received $46,000.00 after using the prayer "rug."  There is a lot about how rich and prosperous God wants to make us and of course they hold all the answers.  You do not have to send them money (they humbly say), but they do accept tax-free donations.  One Scripture comes to mind.
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.  Acts 8:18-21 NKJV
There are many ministries that have quite a scam going.  They create a non-for-profit tax-exempt church and claim that they are not profiting from the Gospel because they are not-for-profit.  Legally, they are correct.  Morally, they are corrupt.  Here is the scam.  The ministry makes no profit.  Many times the leader of the ministry receives little to no salary.  What they do not tell you is that the ministry pays for the leaders "parsonage" (usually a mansion), fleet of luxury cars, expensive clothing, personal staff, and sometimes even a private jet.  The Gospel has done very well for these preachers.  One message that is very similar in all these ministries is the message of God blessing their faith in sowing into their ministries.  They all have stories of people who gave money, listened to messages, read the books, or followed the instruction of that ministry and were blessed materially.  People (as greedy as we are) hear the message of personal wealth and send donations and purchase the branded products of these ministries and leaders.  When they do not get rich, the propaganda has so infiltrated their hearts that they honestly believe it is their fault for not having enough faith or making enough sacrifice and so they go through the process over and over again.  If anyone knows me, you know how much this makes me sick to my stomach. 

But let's say for a moment that all of this is true.  Let's say that if I use the prayer rug and fill out the form, God will give me those requests.  To be honest, I really wish it all was true.  I have been getting very discouraged lately with my job and 160 miles a day of driving for that job makes it all that much worse.  We can certainly use more money and Lord willing we will soon be shopping for new cars.  Maybe I should fill it out.  So, here are my requests.  For money, I want 100 trillion dollars.  Sure it is more money than actually exists but why shoot low for a mere $46,000.  This is God I am praying to after all.   I want to own a house with huge gardens and a greenhouse room.  I also want a house by the beach.  Not one house by the beach, but two houses.  Why should i limit myself to one house?  That sounds like it will get monotonous after a while.  What about a job?  Really?  I think it will be just spending money but out of my super generous heart, I will start some businesses to employ other people.  Other than that, I want a garage (why should I wait for repairs), a bed and breakfast because I love to meet new people and cook, and a restaurant.  There are probably more requests, but I am pretty sure I can amend my checklist as time goes on.  And for a car?  First of all, I prefer to call it my fleet.  Sometimes you want a large SUV with 4WD, sometimes you want a convertible sports car, sometimes you want a huge pickup truck, sometimes you may want a bus or an RV, and sometimes you just want something different. I do not know how many different types of cars that there are but I can guarantee I would have a minimum of 2 of each (because what happens if I want a pick up truck one day and it is in for repairs?). 

Of course all of that is tongue-in-cheek.  But the reality is that as sarcastic as I was being, God can provide all of those things.  Can God give me more money than is in the world?  Considering God created everything that was ever created and everything we have is something of His creation that we have made use of, I am sure that God can give me more money than currently exists.  Am I praying for more money than is in the world?  Of course not, I would not even know what to do with it and the pressure that would come with it would take away any of its joy.  The problem is that everything I listed there was selfish.  It was purposely selfish to illustrate a point.  I do not need nearly all that stuff.  I do not even want much of that stuff and the pressures that come along with it, but those who get into the whole prosperity idea never stop at what they need.  Maybe they do not go as far as my example, but what begins as need grows into wants.  Would I like money so that I did not have to work and was able to own my own business and make money doing the things that I love?  Sure I would.  What I need, though, is either God to help change my heart to find some bit of satisfaction at my present job or to find me a new job.  What I desire is to do the things I love and not have to worry about money.  As for a house, my wife and I do desire a house and one where we can plant a nice garden.  When the Lord should bless us with children, I just do not think we would fit in our little condo.  We also need new cars soon, but I am trust God to provide us the cars we need not our out-of-this-world dream car or cars. 

So what is the point I am trying to make?  God can and will provide those things His children need and sometimes even what we desire.  It is not wrong to pray for things that are on your heart, even if they are a little selfish.  I am not saying it is alright to be selfish, but if you are, God knows and you may as well bring it to Him.  It is silly to hide selfish desires from God or to try and trick God into thinking they are selfless when God knows better than you do just how selfish they are.  I am not saying God is going to give you your selfish desires (though sometimes He does to teach us that they are not as dreamy as we dreamed), but it is a starting point for Him to begin to deal with that in your heart. 

The other point is that Christianity is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  If you came to Jesus to find wealth I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that God promises you treasures.  The bad news (though it should be good news) is that they are waiting for you in the next world.  Sending a bloated ministry with a Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous leader is not going to make you rich.  We are not trust fund babies of the King with an endless book of blank checks written against God's treasury for anything our flesh desires.  Yes, I know that God promises to give us the desires of our hearts.  That promise is for Christians and any real Christian's desire of the heart is to grow closer to God.  If that is the desire of your heart, you will never be disappointed.  God will constantly give you those things that deepen that relationship and remove those things that hurt it.  You may not be able to buy a private jet with a relationship with God, but He can take your heart to places you have never imagined.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 NKJV

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