Friday, August 31, 2012

CLARIFICATION NEEDED

There have been a host of sermons where I have YEARNED to be able to raise my hand and say, "Ah, Pastor, pardon me, But what about......" during the service (whatever the medium - in person, t.v., radio, internet).

I am placing my Pastor on notice that I hang on every word you say.  You have my full attention when you are delivering God's Word.  When and if you think you do not have anybody linked-in with you on Sunday mornings or any special speaking engagement - I want you to know I am with you!

I say all this to let Pastor Dial know I listen (not just hear) and encourage the rest of you to really pay attention to what Teachers/Pastors are teaching and preaching.  Allow me to give you an example.

There is a well respected Pastor and writer, Rick Renner, whom I really like that wrote something I disagreed with or at the least I thought he could have written a whole lot better.  The main verse of the chapter was John 12:3 - 

"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair:  and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." (KJV)

However, the author compared this verse to Matthew 6:21, which has Jesus saying,

"for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (KJV)

The writer then proceeded to spend a lot of time building and showing the case for money (Mary's "pound of ointment") needing to be a huge display, if not the main display, of one's support for the church as a means of showing that you have a proper relationship with God.  Mr. Renner says, "Jesus made it very clear that where a person's treasure is - where his money is - that's where his heart will be also.  So if you really want to know where a person's heart is, follow his money and you'll find out.  Again I say, money tells the truth!" (p.609, Sparkling Gems From the Greek)

"What does your giving reveal about how much you love Jesus?" (p.610)

Survey SAYS......."X" (Buzzer Sound).......Wrong Answer/Application!!

Mr. Renner, you have the wrong focus.  You have set your sights of treasure to low.  You place money as the key factor in determining someone's life priorities. You also use Mary the sister of Lazarus in John 12:3 as your go-to example - weak.

You can cite all the references and sources, even Scripture itself about how "costly" the "ointment" was that Mary used to anoint Jesus' feet with that day.  However, the "ointment" was NOT Mary's "treasure".  Jesus was Mary's treasure.  Jesus had touched her life miraculously and then raised her brother Lazarus from the dead (after 4 days in the grave).  Her service, her ministry that she could express to Jesus her gratitude while He was still alive was, interestingly enough, to anoint Him with the very substance that would be used later for His burial preservation.

Mr. Renner you are only taking one part of a life and saying that is the way to judge one's heart.  You are the one that selected money for the rest of us in your article.  What if ________is my treasure?  This is something you cannot make a dogmatic statement about.  There are too many people, places, and things in life that could be one's treasure.  I believe everybody's treasure should be Jesus Christ but many of us search a long time before finding that ultimate "Refined Gold" (Revelation 3:18).
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The second quote - "What does your giving reveal about how much you love Jesus?" - alludes to a Dangerous and Incorrect way of thinking and believing.  It basically says the more you see a person throwing their money into church supported programs and events the more he/she must love Jesus.  To put it nicely - that is a bunch of cow pie or horse malarkey.  This is on the lines of those shady Televangelists I used to see growing up.  They would promise you healings and moves of God if you would just send in a certain amount of money.  I believe one's faith and service record on the whole is what needs to be viewed here.

Money is a big way to support "kingdom work".  But I strongly disagree with the notion that the giving contribution of anybody has a direct link with the amount of love I have for my Savior.  My finances are just one aspect of my life.  I serve my Lord in many other different fashions.  I sing in the choir, I sing on the Praise Team, I teach, I have even counseled some.  I have physically helped out those in need and the list could go on. 

In addition, you say "...someone may say he loves the local church.  But if he never gives one cent to the church, the principle stated in Matthew 6:21 says his heart is not in the church, no matter what he says. Where is his treasure?  If his treasure isn't in the church, his heart isn't in the church either." (p.608)  Wow!  Now your focus is off two-fold here Mr. Renner!  You have your eyes on money and the church.  It is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that I love and serve, not the church which you are pushing.  Don't get me wrong, I love my brothers/sisters in Christ, but I love and serve Jesus.  The church is where that love and service are displayed most of the time.
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If I could sit down with you I would seek to find out if you are a "Program" type person.  There are those people out there that are sold on the more church functions or programs the better.  And I hear you saying loudly that if I am not contributing anything financially to any program of the local church that my heart is really not in the church, my treasure isn't really in the church, and that I don't love the church - therefore I must not love God.  That is a lie from the Pit of Hell and it sounds like you have bought into it somewhere along the way.

First, the focus needs to be Jesus.  He should be your ultimate "Treasure"!  Get your eyes off of money, the church, and programs as your main determination of commitment and love.  "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and grace."

Second, just love people.  If you desire to show off your Treasure; if you desire to show where your heart is and what is inside - love people.  Love God, Love People - Serve God, By Serving People.

Some verses to consider:

  • Matthew 20:26-28 -  "...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve"  
  • Ephesians 6:7 - "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,"
  • 1 Peter 4:10 - "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
  • 1 Peter 5:1-2 - "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:  Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;"