It’s the economy stupid

So, I must admit that there is something intriguing about watching the train wreck that is TBN. I know people that have either worked for this television network or have appeared on various programs they broadcast and many of them are great people and are there for the right reasons. Unfortunately, several, are there for the wrong reasons and are doing more harm to the advancement of the Kingdom than satan himself.

Hearing of the stories of various “preachers” spreading the prosperity gospel is not only disheartening, but in most cases it is down right sad. These “evangelists” are preying on the people hit hard by the economy and those living in lower income levels. They are convincing those that have little to nothing to give and they will receive back one hundred fold from God. They have presented God as some sort of slot machine that kicks out higher payouts the more you give. They follow that up with the lesson that if you give and don’t receive you are either lacking in faith, or you have not trusted the truths of God. This prosperity gospel is totally destructive and is in my opinion criminal as these con artists continue to prey on those less fortunate.

Recently, a group of these prosperity preachers held a convention in Fort Worth. They paraded out on their stages and spoke of how God has blessed them with huge houses, expensive cars, planes and tremendous wealth because of their faithfulness to him. They spoke of diamond rings with emeralds embedded and how God has given to them because they have been faithful. Stories of supporters giving them motorcycles and other gifts because God had spoken to them to bless the preacher. The wife of this preacher and apparently a “preacher” in her own right, also spoke of her designer handbags and designer wardrobe. She mentioned how God used to whisper to her when they were poor that one day she would have all of this stuff and how she would be so blessed by staying faithful to his ways.

It is always a different variation on the same theme, but these con-artists are preaching a gospel that essentially says, “go ahead, twist God’s arm! Force him into a corner and make him bless you with tremendous monetary and material things.” Whether through malicious intent or true misunderstanding of Scripture, these men and women are going to be held accountable for every dime they’ve collected and for every life they have misled.

The Bible contains a litany of individuals who were closer to God than these so-called Prosperity Preachers, none of them received earthly riches in return for their devotion to God. The Bible is full of stories where placing value on the things of this earth are faulty and like the man who built his house upon the sand. It always perishes in the end and has no lasting value.

We are instructed in scripture to trust in God and not in our money and selves.  This prosperity gospel is focused on our comfort and ourselves more than on God. It says that our comfort is at the very core of God’s plan. It is wrong and absolutely against the real teachings of Christ.

Christ taught us that in His economy, we are to put value on seeing the Kingdom of God advanced. Scripture does tell us that give and we will receive, but it balances that in saying that the reward is based on the condition of our heart. To give and expect to receive is the wrong motive. God does not bless those that are giving solely as an attempt to bless themselves or receive credit from man. The Bible is exceedingly clear that those that give to be seen or receive have already received their reward. Many times we see in scripture that things done in private and with the right heart motive are blessed beyond measure.

The economy of God is at the core of the issue. His economy says that giving our tithes and offerings to the storehouse leads to his blessing our gifts and efforts. His economy focuses on the heart and not the gift.

His economy focuses on the lives changed and blessed and not the materials received or given. His economy says bless those around you and you too will be blessed. His economy says, that God Himself takes care of the birds of the air, the lilies of the field and if they are so well taken care of, how much more do you think God is taking care of us?

So, you see it is the economy stupid; the economy of God. The promises of God are not to make you richer than your wildest dreams. God does not care about how comfortable you are. He cares about your heart.

When your heart is in the right place, the blessing of God flow in multiple ways. You will find peace that only he can give. Peace that is greater than any monetary means. Peace that resides even when times are tough and life is hard. Peace that is stronger than anything you are going through and peace that always points to the hope that is found in Him. That is the greatest gift; the greatest blessing, and the greatest comfort in this life.

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Excerpt from the New York Times, August 15, 2009

FORT WORTH — Onstage before thousands of believers weighed down by debt and economic insecurity, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God.

Private airplanes and boats. A motorcycle sent by an anonymous supporter. Vacations in Hawaii and cruises in Alaska. Designer handbags. A ring of emeralds and diamonds.

“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.

Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.

The preachers barely acknowledged the recession, though they did say it was no excuse to curtail giving. “Fear will make you stingy,” Mr. Copeland said.

But the offering buckets came up emptier than in some previous years, said those who have attended before.

Many in this flock do not trust banks, the news media or Washington, where the Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether the Copelands and other prosperity evangelists used donations to enrich themselves and abused their tax-exempt status. But they trust the Copelands, the movement’s current patriarch and matriarch, who seem to embody prosperity with their robust health and abundance of children and grandchildren who have followed them into the ministry.

“If God did it for them, he will do it for us,” said Edwige Ndoudi, who traveled with her husband and three children from Canada for the Southwest Believers’ Convention this month, where the Copelands and three of their friends took turns preaching for five days, 10 hours a day at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

The crowd of more than 9,000 was multiracial, from 48 states and 27 countries. There was no fee to attend. There were bikers in leather vests, pastors, blue-collar workers, professionals and plenty of families with children.

A large contingent came in wheelchairs, hoping for miraculous healings. The audience sat with Bibles open, flipping to passages cited by the preachers, taking notes on pads and laptop computers.

“The folks who are coming aren’t poor,” said Jonathan L. Walton, a professor of religion at the University of California, Riverside, who has written about the movement and was there doing research. “They reside in that nebulous category between the working and the middle class.”

Sitting in Section 316, eight rows up, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a Bible at lunch time, was a family who could explain the enduring loyalty the prosperity preachers inspire.

Stephen Biellier, a long-distance trucker from Mount Vernon, Mo., said he and his wife, Millie, came to the convention praying that this would be “the overcoming year.” They are $102,000 in debt, and the bank has cut off their credit line, Mrs. Biellier said.

They say the Copelands rescued them from financial failure 23 years ago, when they bought their first truck at 22 percent interest and had to rebuild the engine twice in a year.

Around that time, Mrs. Biellier first saw Mr. Copeland on television and began sending him 50 cents a week.

Others who bought trucks from the same dealer in Joplin that year went under, the Bielliers said, but they did not.

“We would have failed if Copeland hadn’t been praying for us every day,” Mrs. Biellier said.

The Bielliers are now among 386,000 people worldwide whom the Copelands call their “partners,” most of whom send regular contributions and merit special prayers from the Copelands.

A call center at the ministry’s 481-employee headquarters in Newark, Tex., takes in 60,000 prayer requests a month, a publicist said.

The Copelands’ broadcast reaches 134 countries, and the ministry’s income is about $100 million annually.

The Bielliers were at the convention a few years ago when a supporter made a pitch for people to join an “Elite CX Team” to raise money to buy the ministry a Citation X airplane. (Mr. Copeland is an airplane aficionado who got his start in ministry as a pilot for Oral Roberts.) At that moment, Mrs. Biellier said she heard the voice of the Holy Spirit telling her, “You were born to support this man.”

She gave $2,000 for the plane, and recently sent $1,800 for the team’s latest project: buying high-definition television equipment to upgrade the ministry’s international broadcasts.

Mrs. Biellier said some friends and relatives would say the preacher just wanted their money. She explained that the Copelands did not need the money for themselves; it is for their ministry. And besides, even “trashy people like Hugh Hefner” have private airplanes.

“I remember Copeland had to once fly halfway around the world to talk to one person,” she said. “Because we’re partners with Kenneth Copeland, for every soul that gets saved, we get credit for that in heaven.”

But while a band primed the crowd, Professor Walton called the prosperity preachers “spiritual pickpockets.”

>“To dismiss and ignore the harsh realities of this economic crisis,” he said. “is beyond irresponsible, to the point of reprehensible.”

The Copelands refused an interview request, but one of their daughters, Kellie Copeland Swisher, and her husband, Steve Swisher, who both work in the ministry, spoke for them.

Mrs. Swisher said the ministry gave away “a minimum of 10 percent of what comes in” to other charities. Her father’s current favorite, she said, is a Roman Catholic orphanage in Mexico.

The ministry has resisted providing the Senate investigation with all the documents requested, she said, because the Copelands did not want to publicly reveal the names of the “partners.” The investigation, which could result in new laws, is continuing, a committee spokeswoman said. Among those being investigated is Creflo Dollar, one of the ministers at the Copelands’ convention.

Mr. Swisher said that even in the economic downturn, the ministry’s income going into the convention was up 3 percent over last year. Asked if they had adjusted the message for the economy, Mrs. Swisher patted the worn Bible in her lap and said: “The message they preach is the Word of God. The Word doesn’t change.”

At the convention, the preachers — who also included Jesse Duplantis and Jerry Savelle — sprinkled their sermons with put-downs of the government, an overhaul of health care, public schools, the news media and other churches, many of which condemn prosperity preaching.

But mostly the preachers were working mightily to remind the crowd that they are God’s elect. “While everybody else is having a famine,” said Mr. Savelle, a Texas televangelist, “his covenant people will be having the best of times.”

“Any time a worried thought about money pops up in your mind,” Mr. Savelle continued, “the next thing you do is sow”: drop money, like seeds, in “good ground” like the preachers’ ministries. “Stop worrying, start sowing,” he added, his voice rising. “That’s God’s stimulus package for you.”

At that, hundreds streamed down the aisles to the stage, laying envelopes, cash and coins on the carpeted steps.

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Of Angels and Demons….

Last night, our Life Group started a short study on Angels and Demons.  We started with Angels and next week will continue with demons.

At first, it was clear that many in our group has some preconceived ideas on angels.  It is hard growing up with so many angels stories and concepts to really understand what is truth and what isn’t.  I think we covered things in good detail and I am sure most people left with a much better understanding of what is real truth on the matter.

I think what stuck in my mind most, is that Angels are without any option or hope of redemption (2nd Peter 2:4).  If an angel sins they are forever cast out of heaven and without hope of redemption.  Scripture tells us, in 1 Corinthians 6:3,  that we will one day judge the angels and in other places in scripture we discover that angels will one day be lower than us.

In several places we are cautioned to look to God and not angels as even satan presents himself as an angel of light.  To allow an angel to present “revelation or knowledge” to you is extremely dangerous.  We looked at the example of Joseph Smith, the father or Mormonism.  Smith claims that he wrote the Book of Mormon from the revelation of an angel visiting him.  Mohammed claimed to write the Koran from revelations he received from god, while living in a cave away from Mecca.

It is clear in all of this study, that humans must be extremely careful to not fall into angel worship.  To worship an angel is not Godly and in many ways sets ourselves up for deception and failure, as is the case in Smith and Mohammed.

To grasp this a bit further, we must remember that satan is in fact a fallen angel.  To focus more on an angel and not on God is essentially placing angels over God.  In reality if an angel is on the throne of our lives instead of God, we are subject to the deception of Lucifer (satan).  If we are accustomed to worshipping angels we have not only fallen in our relationship with God, we have potentially opened the door for satan and his demons to present themselves to us cloaked in light.  We must not look for angels and we must not look to see angels for we again open another door for satan to come and deceive.

For it is clear in scripture that the fallen angels are forever lost.  Satan and his demons attempt to cloak themselves in light and we must be ever watchful to not fall into that trap.

We must stop the constant doubting and questioning of God’s truth.  We must look to God for the answers our heart seeks, but we must trust in the truths He gives.

The Emergent church trend is to question everything.  They question if Jesus was really God’s Son.  They question if the virgin birth is true, or some man made myth.  They believe that questioning these truths does not lead to confusion or loss of truth.  They claim that loosing any part of that doesn’t change God or who He is.  The problem is that if one thing God has told us is not true, then we cannot trust anything He told us.  We loose it all.

I am completely convinced that spiritual warfare is ever raging in this time.  There are battles for our souls and minds each moment of every day.  There are angels about fighting on our behalf and there are demons about looking to destroy everything about us, the church and our faith.

For the Emergent church to not plant their feet on the solid rock of God’s truth and His reality is setting themselves up for immense failure.  It is allowing the things of God to be presented in confusion and it is damaging to the Kingdom.

I have no real proof of it, but I believe most likely, the emergent trend has started out of one or possibly several peoples desire to seek angels.  There are recent trends that led thousands if not millions to angel worship or to exalt the place of angels in their lives.  I cannot help but believe deception has taken hold in many because of that.

It is serious when one walks out of the order of God.  It is destructive when one proclaims truth that is not tested and proved in God.  It is time for God’s people to refocus on Him and to regather the sheep to the fold.

Treason, Boobleheads and Justice

Last night, as I laid in my hotel room, watching the bobble heads on the various networks, I became more and more angered at the ignorance and down right stupidity of the various “news anchors”. The more I watched MSNBC the madder I got. So, I turned over to CNN and heard their garbage for a few minutes and in short order changed the channel before I totally lost is and threw a shoe or some other object threw the hotel’s TV.

The pompous anchor on MSNBC made sure to speak of how evil the Bush administration is and how we as citizens need to hang them all up. He spoke of how this country is so destroyed under the Bush administration that we are never going to be the same. He yelled at photos and comments of other anchors and even called the other networks stupid and lame. He basically made a fool of himself, but I am sure many can’t see just how foolish he is.

I must say, I am totally annoyed and in many ways pissed at the media. They have taken this waterboarding thing and ran with it to prop up their own liberal agenda and it is creating so much division in the country. I agree that the country is probably never going to be the same.  But under the Bush administration the world was changed by terrorists, not by the administration. The things that Bush did to protect the citizens of this country are not only admirable, but were his job. He was tasked to protect this country and the citizens of it, even those that are now trying to hang him up.

I found it amusing that many of the bobble heads were saying how in the history of the US they have never heard of such torture and blatant disregard for the suffering of human beings. I agree, never have you heard of it, because in the past, the Presidents of history were smart enough to realize that somethings are not meant to be public knowledge. There have been other times in our history, I can assure you, where those that intended to do us harm, have been subjected to various methods to extract vital information. It is total ignorance on anyone’s part that disbelieves it.

We are now living in a time where we have a president that it inept at keeping things secure. He has proven in his first days to turn over top secret documents that should have remained there. He has breached our country’s own national security and because of that, he has opened the door for more terrorist attacks. By breaching National Security, in such a public manner, he is guilty of treason. But, do we hear about that, and the new threats that are surfacing due to these policy changes and acts, no, we hear how bad Bush was and distract the public from what is happening now.

He has managed to not only shield his own actions from the public, but those of his cronies in congress.  There are 4-5 top ranking Dems that are all facing ethics charges, yet we never hear of those, because he has flooded the airwaves with this garbage.

I for one am not only angered and outraged, I want justice. I want the acts of treason committed in the past month to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

My little rant about Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

So, recently I ran an event that had Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking at the event.  In fact the event was really mostly a time for him to speak and then autograph some book he wrote afterwards.225px-neil_degrasse_tyson_-_nac_nov_2005jpg

Neil is self-proclaimed “non-religious.”  I realize that his has his own belief and thought process and I can accept that, but it was difficult to see how far off base he really was. It was even harder to watch some 2000 people hang on his every word.

At one point, he said, “if Christians want to refute scientific data on the basis of their belief, that is fine, but their belief does not make it correct.”  He went on to say, “I long for the day when the religious understand  that their beliefs cannot refute science.”

So, with all of that, I have the following to say….

The definition of scientific method is as follows:

Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many hypotheses together in a coherent structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”

I must reference the bolded text above.  I believe this is a key line in the definition of the scientific method; the interpretation MUST be unbiased. I would argue that Dr. deGrasse Tyson is biased against religion, as he has several times referred to himself as “non-religious, not against religion, but enlightened beyond it.”  By his own statements, deGrasse Tyson, convicts himself of being biased.

My next argument is the lack of controls in his scientific method.

The description of scientific controls is below:

A positive control is a procedure that is very similar to the actual experimental test, but which is known from previous experience to give a positive result. A negative control is known to give a negative result. The positive control confirms that the basic conditions of the experiment were able to produce a positive result, even if none of the actual experimental samples produce a positive result. The negative control demonstrates the base-line result obtained when a test does not produce a measurable positive result; often the value of the negative control is treated as a “background” value to be subtracted from the test sample results, or be used as the “100%” value against which the test sample results are weighed.

For example, in an enzyme assay to measure the amount of an enzyme in a set of extracts, a positive control would be an assay where you add some of the purified enzyme, and a negative control would be where you do not add any extract. The positive control should give a large amount of enzyme activity, while the negative control should give very low to no activity.

So, in the scientific test, you need to add positive and negative controls to fully test the method. Under this understanding, and being that Dr. deGrasse Tyson was specifically talking on the Big Bang theory, how do you establish a positive and negative control? There is really only one way, the positive control being GOD, and the negative control being the BANG. So, how then, does one add positive control to their experiment? Do you really believe you have the scientific power to add God into the test?

I completely argue that in any test of the Big Bang theory, there has never been a positive control. You cannot pressure God to throw His power in for your little experiment. So, you cannot with any shred of decency, tell me that your scientific study has proved the Big Bang created the universe instead of God.

The next time you want to present your “factual data” you might want to consider the very premise of scientific method – solid controls – something which you cannot do in this equation. Your argument sir, is dead wrong, and completely biased in your own opinion, or one might say, belief. If you want to criticize a group of people for their beliefs, you might want to look into your own mirror, and realize that your belief cannot prove scientific data.

The Ridiculous Church

I have previously written about Pastor Ted Haggard and the sex scandal that revolved around him. While I previously mentioned how I prayed and hoped that the church would use this scandal to demonstrate to the world the amazing forgiveness and acceptance of Christ, it is sad today that they have failed miserably.

I just watched the HBO documentary on Ted and I must admit that it tends to lean in Ted’s favor. I understand that many are still hurt and upset at the downfall of Pastor Ted. I can understand that it takes time for healing to come, but I also realize that many have moved from hurt and pain to bitterness.

I didn’t realize that Ted’s church had required for Ted to move out of state and never return. I didn’t realize that they had banned him from every working in ministry again. I didn’t realize that they had essentially kicked him out of the church, out of the state and out of ministry while telling him to undergo “spiritual restoration.” I am not sure this church even understands spiritual restoration.

While I whole-heartedly agree that Ted Haggard needs to receive healing and restoration for his life, I also understand that his life is his own and his choices are his own to make. The church has little say in how he goes about the process and they certainly don’t have ANY say or authority to tell him to leave the state of Colorado and never return. It is ridiculous for them to even believe that they can tell someone to get out of our area and stay out. I must say who do they think they are?

Only Ted and God, know the depth of his sin and where he is spiritually today. It is not for me, you, the media or his previous church to stand in judgment of him. It IS all of our responsibility to love him and accept him where he is at. We must be the church that God created us to be, not the Pharisees and Sadducees that many are.

I pray for Ted Haggard and his family. I pray for New Life church and their leaders and I pray for all of us to stop being so “righteous” that we can’t even be the church to a lost and dying world. It is time for us to use these moments of failure to demonstrate just how powerful the love of God is and how far reaching His forgiveness goes. Stop kicking those that are down and pick them up instead and build them towards a closer, more personal relationship with the Father of Lights.

Isn’t the purpose of the church to lift up the sinner and lead them to Christ?

Be careful how you answer that…..

Cause if you answer it Yes….

Then the church is failing miserably in this case and many others as well.

Switching to Digital

So, in case you haven’t heard, the big switch to digital tv is coming soon.

It is interesting that the majority of people effected by the switch are most likely not going to be using the internet…. but oh well, what does our government know anyways.

This video is pretty funny and sums up the confusion I am sure many feel with this coming switch.