Many thousands of church-goers are awaking to a reality their pastors neglected to teach during the prosperity gospel sermons; that laying up treasures on earth but not with God is detrimental in the growth of the believer. As the economy drops to record levels not since the Great Depression, the words of Jesus comes in loud and clear, "...for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (St. Matthew 5:45).
In a sanctimonious twist of fate, hundreds of thousands of church-goers are losing their man-made promises of riches and wealth to banks, unemployment lines, and debt collectors. As a result of congregations not able to meet their basic financial needs, more churches than ever are in foreclosure.
"Pastors around the nation are doubling as financial shepherds for their mortgage-distressed flocks."
In another twist of deceptive fate, sermons have changed from the once "tithing will bring you a blessing from God" to a quieter, "We can refer you to government programs that will help with debt relief."
"Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of the most renowned preachers of the prosperity gospel, has not tailored his messages to address the changes in the economy or how people should manage their money. But his Dallas-based church, the Potter's House, offers a program that provides tips on financial literacy, budgeting and credit restoration.
Spokesman Curtis Coats said about 250 people are enrolled, with 108 more on a waiting list. Over the past year, 1,000 people have finished the course."
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Not only did predatory lenders lurk in the darkness pouncing on anxious church-goers as home buyers, but preachers also hid in inconspicuous places and pounced on church members encouraging them to "buy that house or that car or pray for that promotion." However, when the bills came due and the economy hit bottom, the church itself or the pastor do little to offer relief.
They pressured members to pay tithes beyond what they could actually afford, stressing their finances and promised that God would make a way. Not that all church members are facing hard times, but those who were caught in the trap of get-blessed-quick schemes, not truly understanding the ways of God, are the ones who are now suffering.
Those who were under God's protection did not get that house they so earnestly prayed for as a blessing, and though they were disappointed at the time, they now realize the blessing was not getting the house. But those who grabbed at the house despite God's warning, now suffer the pains of foreclosure.
Church pastors never took the time to explain that with prosperity comes suffering, they instead suggested to members that they do not have to suffer to prosper, and to get all they can get now instead of waiting for the season of harvest.
Many people took the messages the wrong way and tithed, purchased prosperity gospel CDs and DVDs and are now faced with losing their homes, jobs, and large amounts of debt. However, the pastors who teach such things are quit well-off from the profits of their CD and DVD sales, thus leaving the flock to the buzzards of the air and government programs.
"At Ebenezer Christian Church, Pastor Victor Jarvis said, church members approach him and whisper, 'I'm losing my house. Please pray for me so I'm able to sell it.' Ordinarily Jenkins's sermons are about spiritual freedom and ridding one's self of sin. But his message has taken a different turn lately -- one that preaches the dangers of overspending and debt."
Of course, many pastors will not publically or on national television admit that many of their members are suffering like everyone else in this bad economy and they will never take responsibility for leading the flock down the roads of hard times and suffering, they will continue to claim prosperity and victory, but the truth will prevail to the most stubborn pastors and the years of deception in the dark will soon come to the light before it is all over.
Mega-church pastors who took advantage of the faith-based initiatives and were able to grow their churches and their community programs, have found out the hard way that if they are not using the money to honestly help the community and are not sincerely teaching people the ways of God, the faith-based programs were all in vain.
According to witnesses, "The close relationship between people and their churches has prompted state officials to work with the faith-based community to identify homeowners facing foreclosure and warn people of the dangers of mortgage rescue scams. In turn, area churches are directing struggling members to state programs.
The Rev. Grainger Browning Jr., pastor of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, said his church acts as a liaison for the government because houses of worship are limited in how they can help people. He said some churches set aside money to help its members in financial distress, but the amount is restricted and almost always less than the need."
Excuse me, but the church should not depend on the government but depend on God. But here reveals the broken connection between the mega-church theory of prosperity and God's prosperity. The leaders will now be held accountable for the losses of the people; however, the time has not yet come to its fullest. From the very book of Malachi by which the prosperity preachers increased their riches by threatening people to pay tithes and not rob God comes the proclamation against those church leaders:
"And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart" (Malachi 2:1,2).
As church foreclosures rise and more church families lose their homes and jobs, pastors will have to answer for their flock's condition but many have already started twisting the words of the Bible to fit their messages of face-saving deception. These pastors must take the spiritual road to recovery instead of the worldly road. If they stay on the worldly road by pushing people in need toward the government, they will surely suffer lose. But if they repent and teach the truth about God and money, that prosperity is not a means to an end with God, they can escape financial ruin.
Riches can make themselves wings and fly away and many mega-church pastors that have lived deliciously on the fruit of the flock's earnings can surely lose what they have claimed God has given them. Change has come to America and that change has come through the judgments of God. He is bringing down the rich and raising up the poor and oppressed and it is only a matter of time until he reaches the pulpits of America's most deceptive pastors.
- The Cronline
- Washington Post
- Washington Post
© Nov 2008 by CR Hamilton || [TOP]
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