Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Christian Churches Become Wealthy While Children Die From Starvation

If it bothers you that millions of children will die from starvation this year, while Christian Churches in America have enough money in their bank accounts to feed all of these children three meals a day throughout the year, you need to read this article. I will be discussing a few subjects related to finances in the American Christian Church, all of which should be a major concern for all sincere Christians in this nation. I will begin with the subject of mega churches and their income and assets. They have become commonplace in America; huge and extravagant church buildings, costing from $10 million to $100 million each, have arisen throughout our nation. Today's Christian Church in America has become a gigantic commercial enterprise. Recent statistics from "The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches" and "The National Center for Charitable Statistics", reveal that Christian churches and ministries in America have an annual income of about $80 billion. The amount of the Church's income is not the concern, but rather how the funds are being spent. As mentioned, huge and extravagant church facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and luxurious furnishings are arising everywhere. More and more ministries are operating in expensive new buildings. Many of these ministries boast of flying to their meetings in their own private jets. And, all of this is happening at a time when there is so much need in our nation, and even more so in other parts of the world. The number of homeless and hungry Americans is rapidly increasing. Furthermore, more than nine million people die from starvation annually throughout the world. At such a time as this, when there is so much need all around us, wouldn't it be a powerful witness for Christ if American Christian churches and ministries were willing and able to minister to these needs in a substantial way, by spending a "significant portion" of their massive income and assets to help those in need? However, their vast expenditures on luxurious mega churches, large salaries, worldly investments and expensive toys are hogging most of their income and assets, while, by comparison, only a minimal percentage is spent on real ministry. This is shameful, and it is not "what Jesus would do"! Of course, those in the Church who are spending their donated funds on all of these "material things" are quick to justify their actions. They remind us that the Jewish temple in the Old Testament also was an extremely expensive and luxurious building. Unfortunately, their comparison and reasoning are both quite faulty. If they really want to compare their modern churches to the temple, the first thing they should do is to close down all of their coffee shops, bookstores, arcade rooms and restaurants that they have included in their expensive church facilities. Why? Because the Bible states that Jesus cast the "sellers" and "money changers" out of the temple, and He said that we are not to make His Father's house, a "house of merchandise" (John 2:16; Matthew 21:12). In other words, do not turn the temple into a shopping mall. Therefore, if today's church leaders want to compare their buildings with the temple, then their profitable bookstores, restaurants and amusement rooms need to be eliminated. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be seeing this occur anytime soon. You see, the contemporary Church does not want to conduct itself like the Old Testament temple when it comes to reverence and sanctity, but only when it comes to expensive and luxurious adornment. It is also noteworthy, that the Jewish temple housed the Shekinah Glory, the Ark of the Covenant, the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments written by God, the "mercy seat" and other divinely appointed furniture and utensils. It was so holy that only the priests and Levites could enter it. In fact, only the high priest could enter the revered Most Holy Place of the temple, and just once each year. On the other hand, in Jesus' day, there were numerous synagogues throughout the land, in which the common people worshipped on a regular basis; they were very ordinary structures. Those synagogues would be the equivalent of our churches today, and not the temple. As previously stated, the leaders of today's wealthy, worldly and selfish churches want to compare their structures to the temple, in order to justify their luxurious buildings. Thus we are ending up with tens of thousands of temples throughout America, while the commonplace synagogues (churches) of worship are quickly vanishing from the American landscape. Christian leaders have conveniently forgotten that there was only "one" temple in all of Israel, while there were numerous modest synagogues throughout the land. God didn't need thousands of temples in the land of Israel, and it is likely that He doesn't need them in America either. There is, of course, nothing wrong with having a nice building. However, with hundreds of thousands of homeless people in our cities, due to a shortage of homeless shelters, and with millions of people starving to death each year throughout the world, it is appropriate to ask if today's Christian Church in America has forgotten its real mission and purpose. One of the most common slogans in Christianity is, "What would Jesus do"? It would be a good idea for today's Church to ask itself this question. The Jesus we read about in the Bible spent His life ministering to people's needs, not ministering to Himself. I think it is reasonable to assume that He would ask His Church to follow His personal example, by also ministering to those in need, instead of ministering to itself. As the Scriptures state, we are to "walk" as He (Jesus) "walked" (1st John 2:6); that is, we are to live our lives patterned after the example of Jesus' life revealed in the Bible. And, regarding ministering to others, in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus taught that true Christianity is manifested in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and ministry in general to those in need. This is what Christian churches and ministries should be doing, not ministering to themselves. It is both astonishing and disturbing to realize what America's Christian churches and ministries could accomplish if they just dedicated a fraction of their annual income to "real ministry". According to "poverty.com", about 25,000 people die from starvation each day throughout the world; that's more than nine million people starving to death each year, and the vast majority of these deaths are children! And, according to the ministry, "Feed My Starving Children", it only costs 22 cents to provide one nourishing meal. Based on those statistics, if American Christian churches and ministries committed just ten percent of their massive annual income to "real ministry", there would be enough money to feed every starving person in the world three meals a day throughout the year, and to build 1500 homeless shelters across America annually; within two or three years every homeless person in our nation could be off the streets, and starvation could be immediately eliminated worldwide! In view of what could be accomplished in such a short period of time, if our churches and ministries in America gave just ten percent of their income, can there be any legitimate reason for not doing so? Can they not afford to give only one out of every ten dollars to help those who are in such dire need? Tens of billions of dollars are spent annually by America's Christian organizations on elaborate renovation and expansion projects, and on new, large, luxurious buildings for our numerous, wealthy mega-churches. However, just ten percent of their income, only eight-billion dollars, would feed every starving person in the world three meals a day and house every homeless person in our nation within two or three years. It literally sickens and angers me to see the selfishness, materialism and "luxurious living" within so much of the Christian Church in America, while millions of people die from starvation and America's homeless live in cardboard boxes and eat out of garbage cans. This is not what Jesus would do! This is not biblical Christianity! This is the conducting of a profitable, religious "business enterprise", while masquerading it as Christian ministry. I'm offering the ten percent challenge to all Christian churches and ministries in America. It's time to find out which ones are truly ministering organizations, and which ones are actually just religious "business enterprises". Anyone who has read the New Testament knows that Jesus loves and values people more than buildings and other material things. We've all heard the "talk" from America's Christian organizations. Now, it's about time to see the "walk". I challenge the Church in America to put a "moratorium" on all building and expansion projects, until they have set aside the eight-billion dollars to provide for the desperate needs that I have mentioned. I think that most unbiased and reasonable people would agree that such a suggestion is appropriate. After all, Christian churches and ministries claim to be ministering organizations. Jesus spent His life ministering to those in need. And, the Bible states that, if we see others in need, but do not help them, the love of God does not abide in us (1st John 3:17-18). It is time for the Church to practice what it preaches, or else to stop preaching. There is another area involving "money practices" in the Church that should produce righteous indignation within all sincere Christians; I'm referring to the outlandish "profiteering" being conducted throughout American churches and ministries. It has become common practice for these Christian organizations to market Jesus Christ's "free gospel" of grace with profit margins of 1000 to 2000 percent! CDs and DVDs containing gospel sermons, which cost less than a dollar apiece, are commonly sold at prices ranging from ten to twenty-five dollars each! The Apostle Paul, who God used to write half of the New Testament, said that he presented the gospel "without charge", so that he did not abuse his authority in the gospel (1st Corinthians 9:18). Today's 1000 to 2000 percent profit margins being reaped by American churches and ministries certainly does not constitute presenting the gospel "without charge", and surely does represent abusing their authority in the gospel, based on 1st Corinthians 9:18. This brings me to a third topic concerning finances in the Church, regarding a doctrine that is being taught throughout America. That doctrine is the "prosperity gospel", which teaches Christians that, if they "sow a financial seed" (give an offering) into a church or ministry that proclaims the prosperity gospel, they will receive a "harvest" of good health and wealth from God. This "prosperity doctrine" proudly and unashamedly assures people that the devil cannot harm their health or finances as long as they have strong faith and keep making contributions. Therefore, according to these prosperity-preaching organizations, all "contributing" Christians with strong faith are guaranteed to be healthy and wealthy. This results in a selfish "giving money to get blessings" mentality, which I appropriately call, "The Gospel for Sale". It's too bad that contemporary "prosperity preachers", with their great faith, are not able to go to many of the third-world countries where impoverished Christians are being martyred daily for their faith. Evidently these poverty-stricken Christians, who are being maimed and killed for their faith in Jesus, must not have had the great faith of these American churches and ministries who proclaim this prosperity message. Also, the Apostle Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament, must not have had as great of faith as these modern "prosperity preachers" either, because he said that he was hungry, homeless and poorly clothed, in 1st Corinthians 4:11. In fact, even Jesus must not have had a faith as great as theirs, because He said that even foxes and birds had homes, but He had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). If only today's prospering churches and ministries in America could have instructed Paul and Jesus about having strong faith and "sowing financial seeds", perhaps they could have lived their lives with greater faith and comfort. Of course, this is untrue and absurd, as is the prosperity gospel being preached today. However, this teaching is seductive, and churches and ministries who promote this doctrine are growing rapidly. With this teaching you can have the best of both worlds. Now you can be a Christian, but not have to deny self anymore. Now you can be a Christian, but still enjoy all the things of the world. In fact, with this "prosperity gospel", being a Christian will guarantee you wealth! It used to be that Christianity was known for the "cross" of self-sacrifice. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus told His disciples that anyone who wanted to follow Him would have to deny himself and take up his cross. However, prosperity-preaching Christian churches have come up with a new and improved tactic for recruiting disciples. They have decided to allow prospective disciples to trade up from a "cross" to a "Cadillac". Instead of asking for self-denial, as Jesus did, they promise the pampering of self with rewards of wealth for giving to God. Of course, the way that you give to God is by giving to their churches and ministries. Some even go so far as to promise a hundredfold return from God on the donations made to their ministries. And, they try to justify their unbiblical and worldly conduct by even suggesting that Jesus and the Apostle Paul were actually both wealthy themselves. Well, what about this prosperity gospel? Does it square with Scripture? Were Jesus and Paul wealthy? As previously mentioned, Jesus said that foxes and birds had homes, but He Himself had nowhere to lay His head; Jesus was homeless (Matthew 8:20). The Bible states that Paul and the other apostles were hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed and homeless (1st Corinthians 4:9-11). And, Jesus said that His disciples would also live lives of self-denial and sacrifice, taking up their "cross" (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27; Luke 14:33). He said that we are not to lay up treasures on this earth, but in heaven; moreover, that we cannot serve two masters, God and money (Matthew 6:19-21; Matthew 6:24). The Bible states that, if we are attached to this world and love "its things", we are enemies of God and do not have His love in us (James 4:4; 1st John 2:15). Also, whereas prosperity preachers present their wealth as being proof of their strong faith, their closeness to God, and as being a blessing that God will bestow upon all Christians having strong faith; Jesus presents a completely opposite picture. He says that it is "hard" for rich people to enter heaven (Matthew 19:23; Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24). Furthermore, He stresses the "danger" of riches in His parable of the sower of the seed, when He states that God's Word is choked by the "deceitfulness of riches" (Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14). And, whereas prosperity preachers tell Christians to desire and strive for wealth, and to expect material riches to result from a strong faith; the Bible declares that those who hasten to be rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:20). The Scriptures also state that people who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare; moreover, that they fall into foolish and harmful lusts that lead them to destruction and perdition (1st Timothy 6:9). And, rather than proclaiming money to be a reward or a proof of strong faith, Scripture warns that the love of money is the root of all evil (1st Timothy 6:10). Furthermore, while prosperitypreachers proudly speak of their luxurious homes, cars, yachts and personal jets as being proof of their "status with God", Jesus states that it is "fools" who lay up treasures for themselves (Luke 12:16-21). At this point, regarding the subject of private jets owned by preachers, ministries and churches, I am compelled to illustrate their misplaced priorities and abandonment of the selfless gospel of Jesus Christ. The previously mentioned ministry organization, "Feed My Starving Children", says that one nutritious meal per day, costing just 22 cents, is enough to save a child from dying of starvation. Based on this statistic, it is appalling to know that the cost of just one preacher's or ministry's private jet would provide enough food to keep about 100,000 starving children alive for a year! Now I ask you: "What would Jesus do?" If you're a professed Christian preacher, church or ministry, and you own one of these multi-million-dollar jets, sell it, and keep 100,000 children alive for a year! Furthermore, if you're a gospel preacher, how can you justify driving a Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Porsche or other luxury car costing nearly 100 thousand dollars, when you could provide enough food to save nearly 1000 children from dying of starvation by driving a $30,000 car instead? What would Jesus want you to do? Would He want you to buy a $100,000 Mercedes, or would He want you to buy a $30,000 Ford and keep 1000 children alive? It is interesting that prosperity preachers tell Christians that a strong or "rich" faith will result in them being financially rich, while they tell them that they will remain poor if they do not have a "rich" or strong faith. However, the Bible says that it is the poor who are "rich in faith" (James 2:5). The truth of the matter is that today's popular "prosperity gospel" blatantly contradicts Scripture. Prosperity preachers are manipulating and twisting Scripture to keep the money coming in, so that they can continue living lavishly. The Bible has warned us that false teachers would arise teaching heresies and exploiting Christians with deceptive words for covetous purposes, and that those who teach unscriptural things and use "godliness" (the things of God) as a means of personal gain, are proud and have corrupt minds that are destitute of the truth (2nd Peter 2:1-3; 1st Timothy 6:3-8). 1st Timothy 6:7-8 also reminds us that we came into this world without any material possessions, and that we will not be able to take any with us when we leave, so we should be content with just having food and clothing. Does that sound anything like today's prosperity gospel? Absolutely not! I hope that you are as alarmed as I am regarding the financial abuses being conducted within the American Christian Church, and I also hope that you will do what you can to get this message out. You can read other interesting and provocative articles by Henry Bechthold at http://www.godormen.com Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7224673

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