Posts Tagged ‘tithe’

Last month, we spray painted the story on Elder Schuller “officially” filing bankruptcy.

It was like the quartet on the Titanic finally admitting to each other, “You know, with all these people frantically screaming and cursing the iceberg, I think we have a problem.” Nevertheless, he filed and no one was stunned.

Courtesy: Ana Venegas, Associated Press

Well, except him.

It seems this 84-year-old captain refuses to go down with the ship, according to the USA Today. That, or just wants one last cash grab for retirement.

“I need more help from you,” Schuller said, according to the Orange County Register. “If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help.”

Yeah, in this tough economy, we call that begging.

Let me get this straight: the Crystal Cathedral is $43 million in debt, is full of namby-pamby folk who “appreciate” positive thinking… and God, and has become the laughing stock of ecumenism.

Yet, the place where believers go to retire is going to become “double-tithers.” Keep it classy, Pops.

Despite the fact the media can’t get a single quote from Junior Schuller who was unceremoniously shown the door for first, a revolving door of positive thinkers and then finally, Sister Schuller. Let’s see how she did:

She assured church members Sunday that using “Biblical” money management the church would get out of bankruptcy. The congregation gave a standing ovation near the end of his daughter’s remarks.

That’s nice, but is it practical? This church is hemorrhaging and is home to thousands of believers.

And now they are being held hostage to an infomercial of inspiration in an effort to corral millions of dollars. Oh sure, blame the recession (he did), don’t pay your bills (he didn’t) and then hoard the cash.

Why do pastors with any notoriety fall in love with the fruit from the believers more than the believers themselves? We hope that guy will be the exception, but then stories like this keep coming up.

Does anyone have any sense?

“Sheila is really trying hard and she is a good person,” said Jean Hess, a member for 30 years and a greeter at the church’s doors. “But, I think, to get back to where it was, the church needs to look outside of the family to find a true leader.”

Yeah, that’s very logical but like anyone is going to pay to hear preach. Ah well, our heart will go on. God willing.

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Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8 NKJV).

There isn’t a child of God alive that hasn’t heard this scripture attached to a message on tithing or a capital fundraising campaign. Now, let’s keep the pulpit pimps out of this conversation… this is for the real people doing real stuff for Jesus.

Nonetheless, there seems to be a continued problem with money in today’s churches according to a recent USA Today article.

Citing a national survey by LifeWay research, it seems the Church needs a stimulus package wrapped in swaddling cloths because it ain’t getting it from the people warming the pews:

  • 28% reported raising less money than in 2008.
  • 57% said the poor economy was hurting their church.
  • 70% reported increased requests from people outside their congregation for assistance.
  • 43% budgeted more money to help more needy people.
  • 3% were considering closing down their churches.

Of course, these harrowing statistics don’t include the scheming rallying cries of Rick Warren and Rod Parsley who pleaded for a rapid-fire stimulus package of their own… and got it.

No, these numbers reflect the corner church in your community, the pastor of 40+ years in your neighborhood who loves the Word of God but doesn’t have the benefit of TBN.

In 2009, pleas for cash have rose dramatically while answers for change have decreased at the same rate. Of course, it’s the economy. The question is about the faith side of things though.

“Churches have not yet entered the recovery,” says LifeWay director Ed Stetzer. “Historically, they tend to recover financially when unemployment decreases, usually after the economy as a whole” recovers.

And why is that?

Many, many Christians across the U.S. hear the vitriol of a bill collector on the other side of their phone far more than the comforting, dulcet tones of their pastors. Where do you think their cash goes?

Is that still robbing God or just keeping the lights on?

Full disclosure: I have said before that building this Wall was cathartic for me. I was unemployed for months, with no light at the end of that tunnel. Actually, the only light I could see was a truck speeding toward me to run me over.

Did I tithe? For a few months… and then I bought groceries, paid utilities and made sure my home wasn’t repossessed. Erstwhile was that scripture in Malachi chiming in my head, but I had to believe Jesus knew my heart.

Is it that important to God because I felt guilty?

Crown Financial Ministries says that there are actually about 2,350 verses on finances and possessions in the Bible. That is more verses – more material – than all 13 letters in the New Testament that Paul wrote! God obviously cares about our view of possessions to instruct us that much about it.

So, surely he knows the hearts of all these nameless statistics who want to give, but can’t. Right?

God loves a “cheerful giver,” and how full of glee can you be when your phone is ringing off the hook with ne’er-do-wells looking to collect a check? Not much.

Sure, you may “reap sparingly,” but at least that reaping will come while the heat is still on in the house. Wall Watchers, these numbers got a brother thinking. What are your thoughts?

That insight could be a blessing to many brothers and sisters dealing with this… or are one of those numbers themselves. Peace.

It’s no secret that folk get uncomfortable when a pastor preaches for the altar call.

I mean, people get all squirmy thinking about the night before at the club and conviction besets paranoia with thoughts like, “I just know Pastor saw me there last night” and “God probably told him I was there.”

Whatever the cause, the effect is people flocking to the stage to get their lives right with Christ. Good times, right?

Funny. I don't see many 'happy' satanists or atheists. Hrm.

Funny. I don't many happy satanists or atheists. Hrm.

Well, not so much according to a recent Pew poll that folk just don’t believe in hell like they used to do.

Only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven, according to the recent surveys from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

That makes sense. Believing in heaven despite a relationship with Christ means you may still get to hang out by the Pearly Gates. No sweat, so back to the crack house you go. However, people don’t want to believe in hell because what if… you know, we’re right and they’re not. Whoops.

So, why aren’t more pastors preaching those cherished brimstone messages of yesteryear? It’s just not “in”?

The Rev. Fred Johns, pastor of Brookview Wesleyan Church in Irondale, Ala., said after a workshop discussion of hell that pastors do shy away from the topic of everlasting damnation. “It’s out of fear we’ll not appear relevant,” he said. “It’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow.”

Somewhere, Carlton Pearson is giggling like a schoolgirl who got checked “Yes” in study hall for the quiz, “Do you like me?”

MEMO to pastors: You aren’t denying hell. You are avoiding it. And, inadvertently, leading others to it.

You know dang skippy no one changed the scriptures while you slept through seminary. Heaven is still coming with Jesus, and hell is still a place to get the worst sunburn in history.

This isn’t fashion that is “in” one day and “out” the next. It’s never Labor Day with Jesus and you can wear your whites all year long, brother. So, why?

A-ha! G’head. Admit it, you Caspar Milquetoast clock-punchers. It’s the economy, right?

The more you preach folk at the crossroads of heaven or hell, you are at another crux in the road of getting their tithe or watching that check walk out the door.

Call it what you want, emergent pastorer, psychopablum pulpiteersuh, you know who you are (and we do too).

Exit this post and turn left...

Exit this post and turn left...

From Sheol to Hades, Gehenna to Tartarus. Even “the pit” if that knocks your socks off and gives you reprieve from your pastoral obligations.

Whatever you call it, just beware:

But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV).

I hope that sticks because no matter how good you look on TV, you are only as pretty as the last sinner you yanked out of the muck and the mire.

That’s the evidence of your global ministry – the people.

Maybe that’s why your righteousness should be like “filthy rags.” If you are doing God’s work, you are busy polishing off all the dirt on folks’ lives. Just a thought.

Oh, and if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, call on him.

He loves you. He died for you. He lives for you now. Forget what you don’t hear in church. Just hear the knock on your heart… and let him in. Peace.

Fresh on the heels of stories run-a-muck regarding one Creflo”he who lives up to his surname” Dollar getting sued for a text message enterprise gone the way of Bernie Madoff other professional kleptomaniacs, we have a strategic PR campaign… er, a moment of mea culpa.

According to this story from Charisma magazine, Creflo Dollar has been donating buckets of “change” to non-profit organizations across the nation.

Since February, Creflo Dollar has taken his Change Experience tour to five cities, giving away $10,000 in each location to a ministry making a difference in its community. During a tour event Friday in Denver, the pastor of 30,000-member World Changers Church International gave an unexpected $10,000 donation to The Gathering Place, the city’s only daytime drop-in center for poor and homeless women and children.

How else did the professional shot get taken? iPhone?

How else did the professional shot get taken? iPhone?

Never mind the fact these donations have taken place prior to a press release making its way to each city’s news outlets, I’m sure the mand of Gawd got this command FedEx from the Holy Ghost. (Wink. Wink.)

“In a time where so many people find the world caving in around them and have lost hope, that is when the body of Christ should be there with open arms,” said Dollar, who with his wife, Taffi, ministers to millions each week through their TV ministry and satellite church campuses. “We must be the change.”

Right you are, Taffi. It’s just too bad those open arms are jettisoned north only in the event of media coverage.

The Dollars are people of faith, right? They know the word, correct? Well, it’s not like I am a Seminarian or something, but perhaps it’s the Holy Ghost I am thinking of this note in canon:

“Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NCV)

Thank God non-profit and faith-based organizations are being provided for in these terrible economic times. Even if the Lord uses Creflo’s dollars, that cash will put to great use.

All this story would have a wonderful slant to it if only the media wasn’t given the heads-up before your tent crusade pitches a media story before the tent it came in.

Why?

prosperity-gospelWhy can’t a preacher be profitable without become a profiteer? Why is money-grubbing such a player in the whole “prosperity message.”

I understand that if a man can’t live a message, he shouldn’t preach it.

Nonetheless, if that was always the case, the entire body of Christ would throw up their hands and quit testifying and evangelizing because no one is worthy of living out salvation.

No one can back it up daily, and if they say they can, they are selling you something (you know, like this cat) but I would at least like to see some fruit instead of withered, old prunes dangling in front of TV cameras.

And what’s the charity going to say, “No, please, don’t tempt me with cash that can feed thousands of people we are trying to reach. We know you’re not the most righteous tool in the drawer.”

No, they are going to cash that big, floppy check quicker than Creflo can say, “rapture” and do what God has called them to do… despite the tool doing what he says he is called to do.

Not too long, we posted a story on the Wall about the fallen, biblical superhero Bibleman and his alter famous ego, Willie Aames.

It seems “Zapped”, “Charles in Charge”, “Eight is Enough” and even those pesky reality shows on VH1 aren’t enough to keep Aames out of the poor house. So sad. So true.

And now, Willie Aames is doing something about it… eh, kinda. He is beginning a national campaign against financial illiteracy. Um, huh?! I love this opening graph by WOW News’ Idol Chatter:

If a friend goes through relationships like toilet paper, would you go to her for relationship advice? If your child-less sibling offers you parenting tips, would you take him seriously? If someone loses their shirt in the stock market, would you let him plan your portfolio?

Willie being WillieSo, next to the “didn’t-really-think-this-through” department is Willie Aames participating in a celebrity boxing match, and if his Bibleman-choreographed moves do his opponent in, he will gladly donate some of the proceeds [as in, a buck fiddy ’cause brother probably needs a new pair of shoes… literally] to his “fight against financial illiteracy.”

I thought that was a good thing, at least last time I visited an acquaintance of mine who currently resides in the nestling bosom of Section 8 housing.

But, if you consider the latest, greatest spokesman to the cause, you would think financial illiteracy was something that just cramps your style.

How about feeding the homeless? Clothes for folk in shelters? You know, something you are terribly close to dealing with instead of something you have been-there-done-that-and-lost-the-tee-shirt-in-a-garage-sale.

Consider Jesus? He knew the people at the world’s largest fish fry weren’t interested in a Jimmy Houston DVD set. They wanted to eat a two-piece with some sweet tartar sauce!

Yet, there goes little Tommy Bradford ready to change the world. However, without a trunk full of Dave Ramsey books, Robert Kiyosaki inspirational tapes and Suze Orman loading up his TiVo, I don’t really understand why in the sam h-e-double hockey sticks Willie thinks he knows anything about financial illiteracy.

At least, other than it exists and his head is full of it. Among other things.

Godspeed, Willie. TV may be gone in your life, but not in your house. Check out Christian TV, dude. You may get some tips there, stay out of the news and live among the normal.

Come experience joy, happiness, patience, grace and a whole lot of laughter the next time you decide on your mission field. You have had several of them. Maybe you need to be fed on one instead of standing in line to lump bread on people’s plates.

Just a thought.