It’s not all about that buck

The name Oral Roberts dredges up memories of a man whose lifelong ministry fell into disrepute when in January of 1987, he claimed God would “call him home” if he did not raise $8 million for his struggling ministry by March of that year. Though he was never accused of any financial malfeasance, he would tearful beg for support of his ministry while living a shamelessly opulent lifestyle.

Fast forward to 2015, Creflo A. Dollar (unfortunate name) seems to be following in Roberts footsteps. He is the Senior Pastor of World Changers Church International based in Atlanta, Georgia. According to a New York Times article he owns “a Rolls Royce, private jets, [a] million-dollar Atlanta home and 2.5 million Manhattan apartment.” Recently when his ministry decided one of his jets needed to be replaced, he initially asked for 200,000 people to donate $300 to pay the bulk of the $65,000,000 needed to purchase a Gulfstream G650, a pricey replacement.

Roberts and Dollar, and their “prosperity Gospel” buddies give Christianity a black eye when they make it all about that buck. When Jesus was asked by a rich man, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, and follow me,” Luke 18:18, 22.

Jesus told the rich man to sell what he had and to give it to the poor; many televangelists tell their followers to sell what they have and give it to them. Modern televangelists do not seem to be concerned with “pie in the sky, in the sweet by-and-by” they want it “down on the ground while they’re still around.”

I can understand our culture’s disenchantment with Christianity when those who claim to preach the Gospel are more concerned about their donation than their salvation. I know churches need money to operate and ministers need to make a livable income, but there is vast difference between living simply and living extravagantly.

There is nothing inherently righteous about being either rich or poor. When it comes to possessions it is all about stewardship. Righteousness does not lie in what you possess, it lies in how you use what God has blessed you with. The love of money becomes the root of all evil when we allow our possessions to possess us.

Gospel singer and author Kirk Franklin said it best, “When a pastor wants people to buy him a private plane while a missionary in Somalia bathes children with sores, that’s a shortage of character. When I camouflage my ‘greeds’ to look like ‘needs,’ that’s a shortage of character.”

Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the world whole and forfeits his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26. Being a Christian is not all about that buck.

Probably

In a recent article entitled 9 Things You Think You Know About Jesus That Are Probably Wrong, Valerie Tarico writing for AlterNet says, “You might be surprised that some of your most basic assumptions about Jesus are probably wrong.” Whenever a writer uses the word “probably,” I know I am about to read something that is not factual, but an opinion. In this respect, Valerie did not surprise me.

She claimed Jesus’ hair had probably been cropped, and he was not as tall as we might have imagined. I do not recall burning any brain cells over Jesus’ height or the length of His hair, and I am not aware of any great doctrinal truths that hinge on these two points. But she did not stop there and went on to more significant issues.

She wrote, “We have no record of anything that was written about Jesus by eyewitnesses or other contemporaries during the time he would have lived, or for decades thereafter.” Here’s a news flash Valerie, the Gospels are eyewitness accounts written by His contemporaries. Yes they were written around thirty years after He ascended to the Father, but He had promised to return, and they thought that would be sooner than later. When they realized His return would not be soon, they recorded their accounts to preserve an eyewitness testimony of His life and ministry.

Jesus promised His disciples “the Holy Spirit…will…bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” John 14:26. I have no reason to doubt, and every reason to believe, that the Gospel writers were faithful to record, with God’s help, what they had witnessed.

Valerie probably gets paid to write, but the disciples didn’t. They were maligned as fools, grievously persecuted, and eventually martyred. They refused to recant what they had written despite being subjected to some of the most horrific tortures known to man, and sealed their words with their blood. So I am not inclined to discount their eyewitness accounts merely because Valerie thinks we probably should.

Valerie goes on to write that biblical prophecies were “recalled, not foretold.” She claims that when Jesus chose to ride a donkey into Jerusalem, and Matthew wrote, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet,” this is an example of Jesus merely recalling what the prophet Zechariah wrote (Zechariah 9:9) and then fulfilled it. I guess the baby Jesus while in His mother’s womb manipulated the entire Roman Empire to conduct a census at the right time so his mother and stepfather would travel to Bethlehem and arrive just in time for His birth to fulfill Micah’s 700-year-old prophecy that He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Prophecy is the indelible hallmark of divine inspiration; only God knows the future. Biblical scholars claim twenty-five percent of the Scriptures when originally penned were predicting future events. They estimate approximately ninety-five percent of these have been fulfilled. Am I going to trust the Scriptures instead of Valerie’s doubts, probably.

Climate Change Is Coming

Florida’s governor Rick Scott was in the news earlier this week. In an article from REUTERS written by Barbara Liston entitled “Florida bans use of ‘climate change’ by state agency: report” she claims Scott banned employees of the state’s chief environmental agency from using the terms “global warming” and “climate change.” Climate change and global warming activists called it an “Orwellian” campaign.

Topographically speaking, Florida is probably the lowest lying state and more susceptible to rising sea levels and storm surges from hurricanes. But this all happened back in 2011. I do not know of a drowning since then that has been associated with global warming or climate change, although the sea level is rising. Why is it news now?

A marine science professor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, David Hastings, said, “This is embarrassing, but worse than that, it’s very worrying.” There are myriads of websites projecting the effects of climate change on rising sea levels. According to one site sea levels have risen a dramatic 2.25 inches since 1990. Chicken Little said the sky was falling, but according to guys like Hastings the sea is rising.

For those of you who listened to Chicken Little, you might want to hear what Hastings has to say and turn those helmets in for life preservers. Within a few decades living in south Florida will require treading water or a boat, and trips to Walt Disney World will require scuba diving certification.

Scientists say the earth is getting warmer. It is a fact that global temperatures are hotter than they were just a few hundred years ago during the Little Ice Age, which according to NASA occurred from about 1550 to 1850 AD. The planet is warmer presumably because of industrial emissions and automobile exhaust, etcetera.

But the temperatures today are barely warmer than they were during the Medieval Warm Period from 950 to 1250 AD. A thousand years ago the planet was as warm as it is now without factories and cars. It may be an inconvenient truth that mankind has little if anything to do with global warming. It may just be a global climatic cycle we cannot control.

Science and the Bible agree that the universe as we know it will come to an end. Scientists don’t know when or how, and God has not said when, but He has told us how, “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat,” 2 Peter 3:12. The earth will be engulfed in a cataclysm of cosmological proportions that will result in “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,” Revelation 27:1. It looks like global warming is going to get us after all.

Another Inconvenient Truth

God declares, “It is not good for man to be alone,” Genesis 1:18. Jay E. Adams, reformed theologian and Christian author, comments on this verse in his book entitled Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage in the Bible. He writes, “The reason for marriage is to solve the problem of loneliness…a marriage lacking companionship is headed for misery or divorce. All that jeopardizes companionship must be avoided; whatever promotes it must be cultivated.”

This is the central truth about marriage. While the home is the institution ordained by God for the birthing and nurturing of children, and sexual relations are blessed by God in the marital relationship, neither of these is the primary purpose of marriage. A couple can be childless and still have companionship. Children grow up and move away, but companionship remains. The ability to have sexual relations may be compromised by injury, disease, or old age, but companionship survives. A husband and wife may become too old to make love, but they will never grow too old to love.

Remember when Al and Tipper Gore, his wife of forty years, announced they were separating? Seismic shock waves rippled through society. Newspapers and talk shows were rife with speculation. What happened?

Their marriage seemed to be a picture book example of a good home. They were high school sweethearts. Al and Tipper were twenty-one and twenty, respectively, when they married. Their union had survived four decades of the everyday stresses that attend every household and more. Al served a tour of duty in Vietnam. They almost lost their son Albert when he was six, struck by a car. They seemed to rise above the schizophrenic life of Al’s political ups-and-downs, and Tipper’s bouts of depression to portray an image of wedded bliss.

Al and Tipper’s seemingly idyllic union stood in stark contrast to that of Bill and Hillary Clinton. A relationship that seemed cold and distant in comparison. Whatever passion Bill and Hillary had it was sapped by the infidelity that plagued Bill.

This is why the announcement of their separation, two weeks after their 40th anniversary, stunned so many. Friends close to the couple said they had “grown apart.” Some suggested Al’s frequent traveling championing the cause of global warming might have been the culprit. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth.

Marriages may be made in heaven, but on earth they have to be maintained. Al may have championed the cause of global warming, but failed to cultivate the companionship of Tipper. While the planet warmed, his marriage cooled. He may have won the Pulitzer, but lost his wife.

Bill and Hillary’s marriage still seems cold and distant, but they are still married. Al and Tipper in a “mutually supportive decision” (whatever that is) separated. It would seem that even a bad marriage can survive infidelity, but a good one cannot survive the loss of companionship. That is another inconvenient truth.