About the only time I get a glimpse of news via one of the old warped media outlets is while watching some local news when they ruin their local newscast by parroting something from their national affiliate news feed. Recently I have taken note of all the hoop-la over the new Pope of the Catholic Church. While I seldom spend time trying to analyze the Catholic Church, I can’t help it now because of the enormous ceremony, large crowds, and watchful eyes looking for a smoke signal… that alone is laughable…sorry if I offend any Catholics who might read this. The Pope, be he the outgoing or the incoming IS A MAN, for heaven’s sake. The older I get the less I accept human behavior that puts excessive attention on a single man, or woman. That goes for those who excel in sports, those who draw big crowds and lots of money at music concerts, Obama worshipers and big time preachers.
Man Centered Religion. What really pierced me deep in my spirit concerning the Pope is the fact that so many people in the world put such adoration toward a single man. I know a number of people who I consider to be, in my words, low-level heroes, people who I admire more than the average man on the street, but none would cause me to get fired up like it appears multitudes do when a Pope enters the spotlight. I wouldn’t really care so much if he did not supposedly represent a huge group of Christians. That does nothing in my opinion to advance the cause of Jesus Christ.
Some say Martin Luther didn’t go far enough when he protested all the shenanigans and evil deeds in the Catholic hierarchy. From my studies, I would say that is true. Luther translated the Bible, only available in the Latin language to the Germans, into the German language, which was a very good work. However, Luther started his own congregation, and from that point forward he and the other reformers discarded one hierarchical head, the priest, only to put in another, the pastor. Protestants do not have anything equivalent to the Pope, and that is good. However, we have thousands of pastors, most of who are considered to have some kind of rank or authority above everyone who is a part of that particular congregation. There are pastors of mega-churches and thousands of want-to-be’s. The New Covenant is not a top down hierarchy, but we have many men acting that way.
In Old Testament times, the elders of Israel decided they wanted to be like other nations and have a king rule over them. (1 Sam 8:4) They made their appeal to Samuel, he took the matter to God, and was told that the people wanted a king because they were rejecting God. I have read the opinions of several Christian writers who basically say man is inclined to “want a king.” I have been a part of church congregations where the pastor was elevated to “king-like” status as evidenced by the behavior of many of those in the congregation. Some of those pastors rejected that idea and remained humble. Some took the mantle and cultivated the idea. God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, basically said that priests and prophets often act on their own, without God’s input, AND the people love it that way. See Jeremiah 5:31. So it appears that as long as men seek power and authority over others, there will be a group of people who love to be ruled that way. From a practical standpoint today, people come and go in congregations. If a pastor has that authoritarian mentality, then those who reject it, leave. Most of those who remain are likely ones who love it that way. Think about the last part of Jeremiah 31 “My people love it like this, but what will you do at the end of it?”
Access to God. I often think about the biblical account of the curtain between the holy place and the holy of holies that split from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross. (Matt 27:51) The New Covenant was ushered in, and Jesus, the Messiah became high priest in a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands. Jesus entered the holy of holies as a one-time sacrifice. (Heb 9) Jesus is our high priest. We have direct access. No more blood sacrifices are needed; mere men are no longer to serve as conduits so we can have access to God.
I spent many years beginning at six years of age sitting in classrooms under the teaching of other people. I did some quick calculation and found that the number of hours was 12,000 in elementary and secondary (12 yrs), 1000 in undergraduate college (4 yrs), and about 500 (5 yrs) in grad school. (This doesn’t include the many years sitting in Sunday school and in church sanctuaries. Anyway my secular schooling added to 13,500 hours in class, listening to someone talk. That’s painful just to think about now. Then I had about 2000 hours (11 yrs) when other people suffered the pain of listening to me. There is a point I want to make here. My best learning did not come inside a lecture room; it came when I was alone with books and notes. It takes effort to learn.
In this era I listen to some excellent teachers at times, but my best Bible learning is with God, the Holy Spirit, and His Book, no one else around, and no noise from a radio or TV. The Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) If we have direct access to God then we need to study, not depend on someone to teach us.
Commitment, Celebrity and Discernment. Christian pro football player Tim Tebow is a young man to be admired, a low-level hero of sorts. He made a lot of headlines recently because he cancelled a speaking engagement at a church congregation in Dallas, TX. I won’t throw any stones at him because I want to save them all to throw at the leadership at the congregation in Dallas. This congregation in downtown Dallas, established more than 100 years ago has a brand new campus, billed as a “spiritual oasis” with a total cost according to reports, somewhere between $115 and $130 million. The grand opening announcement listed some big name speakers including Tebow. Why? Yes, it is quite an accomplishment to build a campus that costly, but why did they need the celebrities? It amuses me when the religious guys do this type thing and then say, “to the glory of God.” I know they may mean well, but it just smells like, “LOOK WHAT WE DID, to the glory of God.” Some people would say I am being carnal by criticizing them. Let me say this about unsaved carnal people; they can often pick up on hypocrisy quicker than believers do. Some Christians are just as sold out to ‘MY CHURCH & MY PASTOR” in the same manner that many are sold out to Obama, because he’s our man. There can be cult-like blindness that clouds one’s discernment. My personal opinion is that discernment is a quality severely lacking in the Body of Christ today. You can find a lot of Christians who are committed, but to what or whom?
In the days of Noah, after the flood, God told the people to scatter throughout the earth and populate it. However, when the people found the plain, or valley in Shinar, they prospered and got some different ideas. They were apparently the first to learn how to make brick and then build with them. While we don’t know why they started building the Tower of Babel, we do know they said, “ let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:4) Bad idea.
My bellwether for Congregations. I have an issue that serves as a bellwether concerning the health of a church congregation, particularly its leadership. You are free to disagree. Does the congregation, specifically its elders, pastor, or whoever is calling the shots, promote Christian schooling? If not, the congregation is severely lacking. Why? If there is ANYONE, in 2013, who honestly thinks government-run schools are acceptable indoctrination centers for our children, seriously, that person needs some down time alone with the Lord. Notice I didn’t say people who have their children in government schools are the problem. The problem among Christians is clearly the leadership. (click here for details) Christians want to please God, and many believe they are doing so by following the leaders of their congregation. I love how Bruce Shortt put it in his update reports concerning the “Continuing Collapse” (of public schools). At the end of each report he had this question (may not be his exact quote) “If your pastor is not promoting Christian schooling, then why is he still your pastor?
Follow the Money. The $115 million campus in Dallas has a sanctuary that seats 3000 people. That’s a lot of money per seat. I wonder how well the widows are taken care of, or is that the responsibility of governments? Do they have young struggling families who can’t afford to enroll in that congregation’s school? They do have a Christian school and that’s a plus with my bellwether. If one has young children the cost is just under 10 grand per year per student, but high schoolers are charged over $14,000 per year. Who are we kidding here? This congregation is some kind of elitist organization, and I bet they don’t publish the salaries of the pastor/CEO and other staff either. I don’t have a profile on the people who attend, but $14,000 per high school student? Two of our five children have four children each. I’d be happy if it were 10 each. Anyway, with four children in a family with perhaps two in high school and two younger, that would be close to $50,000 per family, to send them to that private Christian school.
If the new campus in Dallas is a spiritual oasis, I have to ask, “Are the leaders in that congregation satisfied that it is likely that most of the children who attend Sunday morning services are held as prisoners in a desert far from any “spiritual oasis” five days a week as Caesar provides them with propaganda drawn from a poisoned well?
If the congregation in Dallas in any way serves as a microcosm of the rest of America, it is no wonder that most children from Christian homes are found in the clutches of government-run schools because true Christian education five days a week is not a priority of so-called church leadership throughout America. And the people in Dallas call their new complex a “spiritual oasis”? It reminds me of the controlling big shots in D.C.; you know those with fatter wallets when they leave than what they had when they first ascended to seats of power and authority. They are not representing average people; their function is to serve themselves and other fat-wallet elites.
Often you can find a predictable scenario of mind control and manipulation that comes from these type leaders in church congregations when they tell the pew-sitters they are robbing God if they fail to give generously to the multimillion dollar fund that will provide needed trimmings planned for “the oasis!” …..“So come on in and sit in the plush environment, put your tithes and generous seed money in the bucket passing under your nose because it is your gift to God that ensures he will bless and not curse you. And tomorrow morning you should say a prayer over those four children of yours just before they board the big yellow paddy wagon. Of course, if you have an extra $50,000 lying around you can enroll them at the Oasis Academy. Praise God.”
Tebow caught a lot of flack from Christian writers and radio talkers for backing out of the speaking engagement, but I never noticed anyone making an analysis of the congregation’s elitism. At this point, I might be more inclined to criticize him for agreeing to speak there in the first place. It was his celebrity they wanted as a part of their window dressing at the oasis.
Noah’s descendants in the plain of Shinar were apparently the first to use brick and mortar. They started building a tower because they COULD. America has been prosperous like no other country. Do we construct large meeting places so Christians can gather once or twice a week because WE CAN?
Meeting in Towers Above Ground Versus Meeting Underground. Here is a side bar assignment for you; do an Internet search for “China underground church growth.” Or, do it for North Korea. You may even find some comments like I did, comments from Christians in China about America’s large church buildings… revealing for sure.
There is scarcely little evidence in the New Testament that congregations were to be formed into large groups and lead by a single priest, pope or pastor. To the contrary, men were instructed to meet in groups where anyone with a psalm, a teaching or revelation could speak up. The model can be found at 1 Cor 14:26-40.
I have been predicting for several years now that the Church in America will go underground. We are well on our way, because the trend has been gaining momentum. By trend, I mean the Christian bashing by media, the actions of a tyrannical government that continually sticks their proverbial finger in the eye of all things Christian, and even the attitudes of many businesses. As our civil lawmakers and bureaucrats decide parts of the Bible are hate speech, it is just a matter of time before the whole Bible will be censored. It is already banned for use in some places.
One last ominous image. As a part of the celebration of the Dallas church congregation, a video on their web site shows three men, the pastor, the mayor (a member) and chairman of the board I think, pressing on a big red button to start. Start what? When they pushed the red button the implosion of all the old buildings of that congregation began. The new campus was built on a different spot. On one level, it was neat to watch the old buildings fall from controlled explosions.
However, on a different level I had this gut wrenching feeling; I saw those buildings fall, and immediately had visions of the Twin Towers, and building Number Seven in New York City on September 11, 2001. Like a flash of lightening, I then had the image in my mind of the new campus I had seen on the video, with the glitz, glamour and the high tech things for which they were proud as per their narrative. Like a second flash of lightening, the thought came to me, “How long will this stand before it too implodes?” These were uncontrolled thoughts; they were there and in rapid fire.
The next thing that came to my mind was the Scripture: “However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place? Did not My hand make all these things? (Acts 7: 48-50)
Is the new campus in Dallas a spiritual oasis, or is it something more akin to the actions of the people in the plain of Shinar, who suffered from prosperity, pride and stupidity?