Tuesday, July 20, 2004

SEEK GOD FIRST...

In my last post I ranted about how many in the church are abusing God's word for personal gain. How our "leaders" are mis-representing God by offering promises in exchange for blessings and how scriptures are used to justify these practices and therefore used out of context. One scripture that is used quite extensively is Matthew chapter 6 verse 33, it states:


"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
This verse is constantly used as a means to justify giving tithes and offerings to the church to get something in return from God. Is that what this verse is saying though? That if you give to God, he will give back to you? If we follow this line of reasoning then we could reverse the order and state that God only blesses us when we first give him money. We could even conclude that if I don't give God something then I will not get anything from Him. Yet this completely discounts reality since God has already given us everything that we need, even above what we need. If the chapter is read in it's entirety, we find that this is exactly what Jesus was saying. That worrying about our needs is useless since God has already provided for our needs. Problems will arise, but we ought to not worry given the initial premise; that God has already supplied our needs. In this passage Jesus was speaking against the very thing that these prosperity teachers and Pastors promote by using Matt. 6:33 ouf of context. I've even heard many preach a Gospel of receiving the "Annointing" by first giving a seed offering or by tithing, yet the concept that we can obtain such blessings by giving God material things is refuted in Acts 8:19-20.
 
As I mentioned above, if we were to continue along this line of reasoning then it would follow that salvation as well came to us by us first giving to God. If the nature of our relationship with God is predicated on the notion that to be blessed by God one has to give to God first, and, as many would agree, salvation is a blessing from God, then it would mean that we have somehow earned our salvation by giving something to God first to get that salvation. In this case it is moneyBut, is this true? Can one earn salvation through giving money? (remember Acts 819-20). The bible doesn't say so, in fact in 2 Timothy 1:9 it states that our salvation was established before the world began and that it is not based on our works but the grace of God alone.
 
Essentially, by promoting and preaching a Gospel of prosperity by first giving to God to get from God, these purveyors of "truth" are ultimately implying a "works based" theology. A theology that is based primarily on what you have done for God to get from Him. What develops is a mentality that those who are blessed the most are the ones who have given the most, which in all actuality is not true. If that were the case then that would mean sinners are out giving Saints. From my own experience, in retrospect, most of the "rich" people that I've met have not given any more than myself or any other average man or woman of God, and in many cases, relatively speaking, it was the giving of those with the least that surpassed the giving of the ones who seemingly have the most.  I've seen and experienced this many times, where a church panders to those with money while ignoring those without. Many christians flock to the mega-televangelist-lead churches, thinking these institutions have given much to God, which account for their size and success. I am sure many of us have heard preachers attest to receiving an annointing from God after giving, sacrificing even, large sums of money, yet this speaks against the very nature of God, in that, it implies that God can be persuaded or even bought by material things.
 
It is a very dangerous thing to play with God's word for it opens the door to all kinds of diverse teachings that will continually stray from the truth. Not only that, but for those who are truly seeking the truth, this type of reasoning from scripture will cause them to miss the mark so to speak. They will believe that they have salvation, yet may never know the true love and peace of God. We have to get back to the truth of God's word from the beginning in order to curb this teaching and hopefully save some.
 
More to come...







Friday, July 16, 2004

RELIGIOUS RAMBLINGS

In spreading the Gospel message are we to meet the needs of the people first before delivering the message of salvation to them? Is this effetive evangelism? Should the church rely on government assistance in meeting the needs of the community?
 
One thing I could never understand about Evangelists is why do they(at least in my own experiences within the black church) only travel from church to church to deliver the Gospel message to people who, for all intents and purposes, are already believers? Isn't this a bit redundant, sort of the proverbial "preaching to the choir"? 
 
Why do so many pastors of mega-churches always preach to their own congregations but never go out on the street corners and spread the Gospel? Why do "mega-churches" even exist? Why don't they break off into smaller more intimate numbers in order to truly address the needs of the people? Can a Christian individuals' needs be met attending a mega-church? Why is there a trend of teaching Christians how to live better lives by getting more blessings from God? Why do most of the materials and messages given include giving tithes, offerings and pledging money to that particular "mega church" but rarely mentions giving money to the poor and needy on your own? Why is supporting a "ministry" emphasized as opposed to starting your own "ministry".
 
What about those pastors who go on television and promise great blessings of material wealth if you send in a financial "seed offering"? Usually in return for sending in your offering or tithe they promise to send you a genuine bottle of holy water from the land of Israel or a blessed handkerchief, or some other rediculous item. Is this real? Is it biblical for pastors and churches to be doing this? Does it work?
 
I receive letters like this in the mail all of the time, almost every week from various churches telling of how God is pooring out his spirit of wealth and health and financal blessings because of people giving certain amounts of money in exchange for such things as blessed blankets, or posters with an image that is supposed to be Jesus depicted on it, or baggies of sand from Jerusalem, or two pennies that are "blessed", to be placed in a pair of shoes and worn. I've even received envelopes that you put your "seed" offering in and sleep with under your pillow after praying over it and then send it in.
 
Do stuff like this work? Is this what salvation is all about, what you can give to God to get what you want from Him? As I mentioned before, I get pamphlets, flyers and newsletters riddled with bible verses promising wealth and prosperity or that you will receive the "promises of God", most of which are taken out of context.
 
What has happened to Christianity today? Where are the truth tellers? Or am I mistaken, is this the truth?


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Mr. Mfume On The O'Rielly Factor

This is an email I sent to the O'Rielly Factor show after viewing an interview by NAACP President and CEO, Kweisi Mfume regarding the rejection by President Bush to attending the NAACP convention. I did not believe the interview was genuine and decided to comment on it to Mr. O'Rielly. Hopefully he will read it and give it due diligence in considering my opinion.


Mr. O'Rielly, I was very disappointed with the interview you had with Mr. Mfume of the NAACP. You seemed pusillanimous and almost apologetic to him for having to deal with the rejection by President Bush. While I would agree that the NAACP has done great things for Civil rights in the past, within recent years they have become more of an outdated and irrelevant organization that panders to the left wing of politics. Mr. Mfume himself is one that does not have an honorable reputation within the black community at large. While the NAACP is supposed to be officially non-partisan, Mr. Bond and Mr. Mfume respectively have gone on record bashing and insulting the intelligence of the black conservative, including Mfume accusing white conservatives of using black conservatives as pawns to attack black civil rights groups. This is preposterous at best. In such statements these men assume the proverbial black "group think" mentality and present to the media at large that the NAACP represents the interests and ideologies of all black people, I assure you they do not. They continue to use race baiting tactics in order to divide Americans, keep whites fearful, and blacks from thinking for themselves. The truth is President Bush does not need to attend an NAACP event to win the black vote. Thinking that attending a civil rights organizational event will win black votes is dishonest and disrespectful of all blacks. Being a good candidate and campaigning on the right platforms that appeal to the general interest of all Americans, and blacks in particular, will win votes for Bush and the Republican party. Continuing to pander to minority organizations for the sake of votes is demeaning. I applaud the President for not attending.

I have great respect for you sir and enjoy your commentaries and talking points immensely, yet I am greatly disturbed by your lack of honesty in dealing with Mr. Mfume. When addressing his remarks regarding the so called "prostitution" of blacks, you practically put words into his mouth, seemingly, to avoid having him give account for his own words and deeds. I was amazed! I thought to myself, isn't this the no spin zone? If you ask someone what they meant by something they stated, allow them to give account for what they meant without first qualifying a statement and then allowing them to agree with you. I found this to be quite disingenuous.

I am sure you will disagree with me and disregard this email as it is critical of you as well as Mr. Bond and Mr. Mfume, but I had to address this issue with you for the sake of my own conscience. I would suggest in the future Mr. O, that if you are not ready to face so called black leaders head on without spin, that you avoid interviewing them on your show. You are a good man sir, do not let white fear keep you from revealing the truth about black people, including such monolithic organizations as the NAACP, who continue to pander to the immoral aspects of the black community without addressing real problems with real, tangible solutions.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Jerry McClellan
http://jmcclellan.blogspot.com
Chatsworth, CA.

P.S. Just for the record, I am a black man.

Monday, July 12, 2004

BUILDING A NEW FOUNDATION

Sometimes I get in trouble with my brothers and sisters in Christ when I express concern about false teachings within the church. They seem to try to disuade me from speaking up about the truth of God's word. I recall one person telling me that I should not speak up against the leaders in the church when they are wrong because that would bring upon myself a curse from God. I've also been told that we are only called to live holy for God is holy, yet I believe part of living holy is to contend for the faith, to cast down and expose false teachings as stated in Jude, "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."(Jude 1:3)Or in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 where it states "Test everything. Hold on to the good.", and Matthew 22:37; "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
MIND.'"[emphasis added]

And there are many more to this point:

1 Peter 3:15
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always
be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do
this with gentleness and respect"

2 Corinthians 10:5
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets
itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take
captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

2 Timothy 4:2
"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. CONVINCE, REBUKE, EXHORT, with all longsuffering and teaching."(emphasis mine)

We are urged to contend and even defend our faith in God's word through His son Jesus Christ, not in vain arguing but with love, respect, and patience. While I do agree that ultimately God will reconcile all things back to Him, I do believe that we are to make every effort to win souls and expose false teachings when they arise or else we will be held accountable for our inactions as well as our actions.

This brings me to this point, people will not receive God's word when there is no foundation to it. They will be like the seeds that fell among the thorns and thistles or among the rocks, but in order for the preaching of the Gospel to be truly effective they must be planted in good soil,that good soil is a solid foundation in the word of God which starts in Genesis. People, even many Christians, do not accept the bible as true and historical, they do not connect it to reality and therefore are struggling with their faith. Even at the start of the early church with the Apostles, there were many who received Christ, I believe on a large part, due to the fact that the foundation of the Old Testament scriptures were already accepted as true. Even when Paul spoke at the Areopagus to the philosphers there, they already believed in a god yet did not know who he was. Paul came in and filled in the blanks, if you will, for them. Some of them believed and other did not. Yet, there was a common ground for them to work with.

As I stated before, one common thread among the false teachers is their stance on the book of Genesis,this is why I know that we must begin to expose them starting with demonstrating the truth of the creation story. For from this we get many foundational teachings about clothing, marriage,sin, disobedience, Satan, sacrafice, and the nature of God. All of these things are foundational to the Gospel message, without them the message really doesn't make much sense which is why many do fall away eventually.

Three examples of how the Gospel connects to these foundational teachings is the concept of sin, death, and redemption, these three things are explained in the first three chapters of Genesis. First, God covered Adam and Eve with an animals skin, a symbol of Christ and the concept of shedding blood to "cover" our sins. Another example is in the reference to Jesus Christ's death, burial and ressurrection, when God gave a prophesy of the woman's seed crushing the head of the serpent, second, Christ is referred to as the "last Adam" by Paul in Romans, as Adam was the representative for man that brought death to us, so too Jesus became our new representative that brings life, third, Jesus had to be born of a woman, be of the lineage of Adam,and take on the punishment of sin upon Himself in order to save us, who are also descendants of Adam. He could only die for Adams descendants. All of this stems from the book of Genesis.

But when we deny the historicity of the creation account, we undermine the essentials of the Gospel message. One way this has been done is through allowing thousands or millions of years to be explained into the six day creation model which stems from evolutionary thinking based on the so called discovery of the fossil record which has evidence of death, desease and violence. This is inconsistent since the bible clearly tells us that it was due to Adam and Eve's sin that we have death, desease and violence. Also, God looked on all he made and said that it was good, how could that be if there was death and desease occuring prior to the fall of man? That makes God inconsistent and a liar! It is from this axiom that we begin to get false teaching for it is when you can weaken the foundation that you knock the rest of the building down. As Jesus stated in Matthew 12:29 "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house." If one is allowed to discount part of the bible, especially a part that is foundational, then the rest of the bible is easily discounted as well. Our Christian leaders are compromising the truth and authority of scripture for the sake of "winning souls", not offending, and a false unity. The Lord says in Hosea 4:5-7
Hosea 4:5-7
"You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother-
my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
"Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.
The more the priests increased,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful."


and again in Jeremiah 8:10-12

" They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
"Peace, peace," they say,
when there is no peace."


Because they reject the knowledge of God and accept the foolish wisdom of the world the word of God is made into a series of formulas, mantras, and secret spells and many are dying and don't know it. We avoid this essential truth to some how keep the peace and not cause division. Such is the plight of the Church. It has gotten to the point of accepting homosexuality as a norm, justifying abortion, and churches relying more and more on government funding to do the work of God. The ability to justify these things stem from the abandonment of the historicity of Genesis and hence the rest of scripture as well.

The secular mindset has so permeated the church that, if we are to be effective as Christians, we have to practically start all over again in our approach to spreading the Gospel. We have to form a new foundation or frame of reference in order to get the whole message across and penetrate the wall of secular reasoning that is so strong among unbelievers and believers alike. This need in forming a new foundaton speaks volumes into why homosexuality, abortion, and the breakdown of the traditional family has become common place rather than taboo inspite of many organizations who do protest these notions, but are still losing the battle here in America and even abroad, but don't even realize why. We have to start to rebuild a foundation for the church from the begining.

Friday, July 02, 2004

"Boosters of Big Biotech" A few tricks up their sleeve...

Here is another article on the Stem Cell and cloning issue by Wesley J. Smith who is an award winning author and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and is also a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His book Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World will be published in the fall.


In it he talks of the pervasiveness of the proponents of cloning to use very ambiguous language when debating on the relevance and viability of cloning. He gives several examples as to how these guys are doing it, getting passed the public radar by not actually admitting what is really at the heart of the Stem Cell issue. Including Senator Dianne Feinstein in her address to the U.S. Senate in support of legislation to legalize cloning for research. It is amazing what levels these people will stoop to to get their way. Sad indeed. This is why we have to be ever vigilant on this issue in order to inform the public and put such decisions in the hands of the people. To make sure that there is open and honest dialogue on the subject that a logical conclusion can be reached by the people.