Circa 2015 – 2019
While I was happy and delighted with what The Holy Spirit has shown me about the tithe (which I shared in the previous post), He was not done yet. He made me think about what the diversion of all these tithes from God’s original intent has cost the Church.
With a lot more money than they should possess, some Churches are no longer simply a place to worship God. They can now afford grander programs, more outreach, trips for conferences and seminars, more community work, more mission work, and so on. It seems perfect. More souls are saved and a lot is done to preach the gospel. However, the pastor’s work is no longer limited to feeding and caring for his flock, or spending time devoted to prayer and devotion with God. They now have a lot more responsibilities and projects on their hands.
Results, numbers and size have also become the glorified marks of Christianity and the measure of a pastor’s worth and stature.
A very devoted cell leader in my Church was very dismayed that many good pastors who had helped build the Church have left in disappointment. They could not bear the stress and the politicking at Church that money and “success” brought. She lamented that many who had remained were like career pastors – hoping to make it up the ladder as the Church increased in size and wealth.
It also opened the way for ego, ambition, pride and vanity.
One pastor here wanted to build a very iconic i.e. costly church building “to shine for God” and “jokingly” swooned over travelling in a private jet one day, just like the pastor from the US he had invited over to speak. Another preached that as his Church was now the biggest in the country, it proved that his teaching was right. So, he threw a challenge to those who opposed his message “to show me their numbers, and I would show them mine”.
One of our business associates mocked a Church, which they had supplied a very expensive carpet to – they were told by church staff to rip out the brand-new carpet and replace it with another as it was not good enough for their Senior Pastor. Some years ago, when I was working on a business proposal in Korea, a chain-smoking Church elder proudly said they do not need our services to conduct any market research on the private club project the Church wanted to embark on as their members would pay any amount to join it if their Senior Pastor told them to, for to them, He is equivalent to God!
My American boss looked at me with raised eyebrows then – is that what Church is in Asia? I am so thankful that despite this, he one day decided to accept Jesus as his Saviour and asked me to lead him through the sinner’s prayer. Anyway, back to this Korean Church - they had boasted about the number of millionaires in their Church – if I remember correctly – it was more than 60,000. So, imagine how much money they collected every month from tithes!
Some years later, this Senior Pastor, whom they regarded as God, and his son were convicted of embezzling millions of dollars in his home country, not long after several pastors and staff in my own Church were arrested for alleged misuse of Church funds.
In 2008, I had a very vivid three-part dream.
In the first, I was fighting a huge albino snake that wouldn’t die. Even though I kept chopping it up like sausage, the pieces kept joining up again. Finally, I took up my sword and with all of my strength, like a samurai, I jumped up high and with a huge shout, I sliced the snake in half, from head to tail. Only then did the snake collapse like a deflated balloon. And I laughed, “Hah! Now you are only good for making handbags.”
V said that it represented the spirit of seduction that had come to the Church. He warned me to watch the affections of our hearts. This, He says, is an attack on the emotional realm and on the 5 senses – hearing, taste, sight, smell and touch.
As I could only kill the snake by cutting it from the head, I felt the attack was centered on the leaders and heads of the church, and was not so easy to deal with. A week after I had that dream, a Church in the US announced the suspension of their founding pastor for adultery he committed with a church member. I was stunned. I had thought of him as someone who was very anointed and I was very inspired by his teaching.
A few years ago, I was invited to visit a Church led by a pastor who had started a very big Church in another country. I thought he was spiritually insightful but V led me to accidentally come across a write up in which he confessed his extramarital affair with a young member of his Church, and he reported that he has repented after coming under the mentorship of a revered pastor overseas. However, again by accident, I was later told by another pastor later that he had committed adultery with yet another member from his Church after his so-called repentance and restoration!
V: Mammon is very much active in the Church today with the lure of easy money, and it opens the way for another powerful spirit that even great men and women of God succumb to – the spirit of Babylon, a spirit of seduction.
Ahh, this old trick in the devil’s book employed by Balaam, using Babylonic women and wine to cause the people of God to fall into a drunken stupor and sin against God. They then lose the protection of the Almighty God, paving the way for the enemy to come in to plunder and destroy.
I recall a line, superbly mouthed by Al Pacino in the 1997 movie “The Devil’s Advocate”. Acting as the devil himself, he confidently oozed to his underlings with a disdainful smirk when their target resisted the bait: “Vanity is my favourite sin. If greed doesn’t get him, vanity will.”
I wonder why the Holy Spirit allowed me to stumble onto all these discoveries about what is going on with these preachers and churches that I have been led to join, admire or support for so many years. I realised how easily I was sucked into trusting them, plunging headlong into their vision and mission which seemed perfectly noble, in line with Scriptures and the will of God.
One thing is common, the preachers started their ministry with pure hearts, totally on fire for God. Gifted and anointed, their church or ministry grew. With increase in fame and popularity, tithes and money came rolling in. And temptations and seduction followed. I wondered, if they had been wise and honest or properly taught about tithing and where all this illicit money leads to, perhaps their hands would have been clean and they would not have fallen and their talents will be put to even greater use for the kingdom?
V said to me: “A wise leader will choose an inner circle of upright people whom he gives the right to and who will question, challenge or correct him when they think he is straying from the straight and narrow path. It may be inconvenient but they will be his greatest protection.”
I thought that was really wise. With the kind of temptations a leader faces today, he would do well to surround himself with people who do not just care about him, but most importantly, they fear God only so that they may discern the truth without misplaced loyalty or love.
I thank God for God fearing and brave mentors and friends who can do that for me and for my brutally honest husband and children, who are my greatest critics. I do not harbour any ambitions for COBS to be famous, rich or big; praying only to live a life bent and broken by the Lord; to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly before God all the days of my life.
So help me God.
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