Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Does Your Pastor Wear An Armani Suit?

Bravo to the comment left as a result of my previous post. Bravo! Tithing and giving can be looked at in many different ways. For me, giving to a down-and-out family across the street is doing God's work. Giving to the "Because I am a Girl" program is also the hand of God reaching out. Giving to the poor and the homeless, toys and coats for kids, any reputable charity -- in my humble opinion, is the mark of a Christian.

You don't do it for recognition, but for love and compassion for your fellow man. That, my friend, is following in the footsteps of true Christianity.

I think many evangelicals have lost their focus of what it means to give. We've become so wrapped up in believing that God wants His people to have the best, that we forget Christ lived and dwelt among the poor and the destitute. I'm not saying it's wrong to have nice things, and I don't have a problem with sitting in a pretty church, but I do have a problem when it becomes the focus of a church to make sure their pastor lives in the lap of luxury. I have a problem with pastors who wear designer clothes when the majority of his congregation can barely feed their kids!

I realize there are churches claiming to be good stewards with their money. I'm sure they'd be happy to let you see where their money is spent. Many congregations where I lived in the south, were extended family to their members, loving them and taking care of their needs during a family crisis. Church families can be a beautiful thing to have as part of your life.

But when you're hounded week after week to give your 10% and your love offering so that He will pour out His blessings upon you! -- It makes me wonder. TV preachers and marathon praise-and-worshippers know exactly what to say to make you weep. They can send you to the phone to donate before you realize you've left the comfort of your Lazy boy. You ever think about the psychology that goes into all that?

We can reach out in many directions, inside and outside of the church. And we shouldn't feel guilty for it. I believe He blesses us according to the intents of our heart. Just my humble opinion. I don't belong to any church. I doubt I ever will. So I can't judge, but I've experienced the strangle-hold of a megachurch. I know first-hand the guilt involved in not paying your tithes.

I also know not all churches are bad when it comes to forcing you to give, and even in the bad ones, there are still good people. But you'll never see me clutching my hard-earned money in my hand and walking down the aisle to throw it at the pastors feet. A pastor who wears Italian leather shoes for $500 bucks a pop. I'd rather take my chances and give it to the pan-handler on the corner.

Just my humble opinion.

Find a reputable charity. Sponsors for children in underdeveloped countries are needed, as well as here in our own country. With our economy the way it is, there are many families in your own neighborhood who need help. Be an anonymous donor. If you know a family who is hurting, pay their light bill. Send them a gift card to their local grocery store. Leave a note on their door with a word of encouragement. Don't wait to be an angel of mercy just at Christmas.

That, is all of our priority. Christian or not.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does Jesus Really Need Money?

So I'm channel surfing yesterday, and I flip to a religious station. A marathon "praise-a-thon" to raise money. For the station or missions or whatever. Folks are standing at their seats with their arms raised, moving and swaying to the music, eyes all watery, and sending up a few shouts in between stanzas. A large group of singers and musicians blanket the stage, leading the auditorium from one song to the next, on and on and on and on. I wonder if they classify this as entertainment? Are the people who tune in moved to donate by watching this? An occasional testimony is relayed, the person in 70's couture talking loud and long about sowing seeds of prosperity. Giving in faith. And how God has blessed them, saved them from a life of poverty, sickness, and disease. All because they sowed their seed.

Phone numbers blink at the bottom of the screen and I wonder how many of these I've sat through in my lifetime?

Does God really need my money? Or does He really intend to test my faith on a regular basis by whether or not I give my last dime?

I suppose that depends on whether or not we take the scriptures literally. The condemnation I feel for even writing this blog post weighs heavy on me, because you see, I was brought up on the covenants of God. On the conviction of the Holy Spirit. On the literal meaning of each and every scripture. And if you did not believe as I did, then whoa be unto you. You were dead already.

I understand why these praise and worship marathons exist. I know the love they feel for their Creator, but I also understand the fear involved. The sorrow they feel for anyone who does not believe like they do. Or walk their same path. I swallowed that dogma for years and chased the feelings of eternal security until my feet were worn to bloody stubs.

Am I now an apostate? Have I forsaken the cross?


I've grown tolerant. I've learned that more than anything, God's love can not be explained or compared to the love we know as humans. I will never walk in fear again. I learned that we cannot control God by "giving until it hurts." I've even grown tolerant of folks praising God on camera and living like the devil when the house lights are turned off.

I changed the channel eventually. At least Ellen DeGeneres isn't using guilt to get my last dime. And she makes me laugh. That's more than I can say for a gospel-singing marathon.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sharing A Piece Of Yourself

Whew! Too much time between blogs. All the things you're not supposed to do if you're a blogger, I've done. But I've been blogging since 2005. The rules for blogging were not clearly defined back then. Then again, I don't follow many rules, I'm afraid. Anyway, after all this time, I'm not about to stop blogging now. My intentions of becoming a super-blogger are still in the works, however, they're taking a backseat to getting my new book out. Something has to give somewhere.

I've received eight "yes's" to my request for blurbs from my list of respected authors. I'm extremely happy about it. There are a few more authors I'm waiting on, but as the deadline grows nearer I wonder if I'll hear from them at all. As it is, I'm thankful for those kind and courteous authors who have at least emailed me back. And for those who have decided to give me a bit of their time to say nice things about my book. As a writer, every kind word, gesture, helping hand, and loving heart that sends help my way, I'm not only thankful for, I'm moved beyond words. People are busy these days, and when you are lucky enough for someone to give you a piece of themselves, it's a tremendous blessing that should never go unrecognized.

I have a large, ornate serving dish hanging on my dining room wall that says, Don't just count your blessings, share them. This is a tough business, and sometimes I feel as though I'm out here all alone. I'm sure I'm not the only writer who feels that way.

For me, I'm coming down the home stretch. The book cover is done and everything else is rolling into place. There's still much to do, but after a decade in the writing, TELEVENGE will soon see the light of day. It's a big book. Over 700 pages. Blood, sweat, and plenty of tears cover each of those pages. So when someone says to me, Yes, I'll send you a blurb, I don't take it lightly. Once again, I'm grateful beyond words.

Blessings to you and yours.