by Patricia Backora
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shared by Patricia Backora, author of the book:
Tough Love in Christ’s Millennium
Which you can order online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
A certain type of prosperity preacher, both live and televised, runs his pulpit with a rod of iron and a sharp tongue, someone who has failed to mature in the knowledge of My Love. “Brother Bear” as he is spiritually called, takes liberties with the tender hearts of my beloved children, even those who cannot discern truth from error. Still, My people feel like they are part of his tribe and he is their commander-in-chief. So they stand in awe of this heartless preacher and they latch onto his every word, sometimes more than they listen to Me when I speak directly to them out of My Word. They are too afraid of his high and mighty position to question anything he says, for many of My people are not yet well-trained enough in the Word of God to distinguish between salt which preserves and salt which is rubbed in raw wounds.
Brother Bear has allowed pride and presumption to enter into his life. He presides as judge over My people who are suffering trials of deep humiliation, although I said in My Word: Who are you to judge another (Romans 14:4)? And, with the same measure you judge, you shall also be judged (Matthew 7:1-5). Brother Bear needs to repent of his haughty attitude, or I might have to allow him to experience some of the same adversity he advises others for enduring.
Brother Bear condemns as slothful the poor, even those who set their affections on things above and can truthfully say their inheritance is not of this world. But I said “Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God (Luke 6:20).”
But Brother Bear has nothing kind to say about the poor. He writes them off as failures in the School of Biblical Prosperity. Maybe he needs to take a closer look at James chapter 2. My Holy Word makes it clear that I have chosen the poor of this world who genuinely love Me and rely on Me. These saints, so despised by Brother Bear, have been blessed with an extra measure of faith (verse 5). Though poor in this world’s goods they are heirs of My eternal Kingdom. Yet Brother Bear lumps them all together as leeches on society, worthless bums who produce nothing and “are just a drain on church resources.” Generally speaking, he doesn’t get too excited about social welfare programs, even church-run ones. His real concern is that “spiritual bread” costs less money to break to his flock than material bread. But James said: “What good does it do to speak a blessing over your needy brother or sister, unless you also demonstrate practical concern for their bodily needs (James 2:15-16)”?
Since spiritual food is ultimately more important, Brother Bear’s alibi is that preaching the Word to hearts is a much more urgent to God’s Kingdom than feeding hungry mouths. Still, he belittles the spiritual contributions made by the poorer saints, just because they aren’t paid in earthly money for “serving the Lord” like professional pulpiteers are. Brother Bear is being inconsistent, don’t you think? But the blessed deeds of devotion performed by poorer saints are infinitely more precious in My sight than filthy lucre is to Brother Bear. My Son gave His all to enable people to render such service to Me.
Speaking of “success”, Brother Bear might well have looked down on My own outward appearance while I was on earth for I was not so smartly decked out as your typical TV evangelist. And guess what? I wore a beard and sandals, definitely not in keeping with Brother Bear’s code of “conservative values”. He might have considered Me, the Son of God, just another lazy hippie bum because the day came when I quit toiling in My carpenter shop and became an itinerant preacher who went forth to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God, living strictly by faith in My Father’s provision. Brother Bear might have called Me irresponsible because I quit My secular job before I had saved sufficient funds to finance My ministry for the forthcoming fiscal year.
And what would Brother Bear have thought of John the Baptist? With his humble garment and shaggy hair, he was hardly an advertisement for that “success gospel”, which the church borrowed from the world to conform itself TO the world! That unpolished prophet would have been whisked out of Brother Bear’s air-conditioned, sanitized sanctuary before he got a word in edgewise. Rather than preaching the Gospel of Get John said: “Let those who have food or extra clothes share with those who have none.” Jesus told the rich young ruler to “sell all that you have and give to the poor.” THEN, “come, follow me.” Neither Jesus nor John ever jetted around in champagne luxury to the kind of tourist traps frequented by Brother Bear and his jet-setting pals. Instead of saddling their congregations with a burdensome mortgage in the name of “Christian commitment”, Jesus and John the Baptist held church under the open sky.
Brother Bear speaks with a forked tongue, the way he pushes the Prosperity Gospel, then roars against the worldliness of the saints out in the pews. But what is more worldly in My sight than to christianize the most lucrative of the world’s values? Brother Bear worships at the altar of monetary prosperity. Rightfully he condemns adultery, pornography, and juvenile delinquency, but what about covetousness? Doesn’t he covet the “firstfruits” of other people’s paychecks, and compete for first dibs on what his “targeted donor pool” sets aside for TV ministries? And then he lampoons poor people for “living below their privileges”. He contemptuously sees such souls as unworthy of My Love. He thinks that just because they’re struggling financially they must be suffering My punishment for sin in their lives. Just what do he demand of them? What does he think they must do to live on a par with his kind of privileges? Become just like himself, a man whose angry face and angrier tongue belies his pleasurable circumstances?
I heard some discouraging words from him when he was in a particularly irascible mood, directed at the female saints in particular. It seems he considers slenderness an accurate measurement of feminine spirituality. Some of My daughters went home in tears after he lambasted those with a weight problem for their lack of self-control. But he’s in no position to rebuke anybody for being fat! He should first examine his own heart, and his own widening waistline. Where, oh, where, in Scripture do I make thinness a requirement of women’s discipleship, while looking the other way when men have to let out their belt an extra notch or two? Show Me the Scripture! Better a woman digging into a pint of Haagen-Dasz and enjoying the so-called guilt than a religious opportunist digging into your wallet for burdensome projects I never sanctioned!
People on public assistance are one of Brother Bear’s favorite targets. Leeches on society, he says. Welfare queens. People looking for an easy ride! But he should first examine his own life style, and repent of all his shameless appeals for money, money, money, and ever more money. Bogus ministries are the biggest welfare recipients of all, but outwardly it more respectable to people for them to amass a tidy pile, just because they fish for funds in the name of “God”!!
Brother Bear commits himself to exorbitant purchases “for the kingdom of God”, then he goes crying and begging on TV, expecting his “partners in ministry” to bail him out of a debt he incurred without first consulting those “partners” who were not first consulted about committing to those ministry purchases. Has Brother Bear ever once tried the same tonic he prescribes for others, tightening his belt and “being a responsible steward”? Must his ministry always run on the latest technology, or is he just keeping up a prosperous front? Why doesn’t he economize a little? Why doesn’t he just postpone his next luxury jaunt to the Lands of the Bible, or make his old suit do an extra year, so long as he can still fit into it? Wouldn’t a simple fast food meal fuel his body just as much as all those fancy restaurant meals? A trip to McDonald’s is a luxury to many of My poor children. Why does he keep trading in his old car for a new one? Just to appear as prosperous to people out in the parking lot like he does in the church? Wouldn’t a cheaper watch tell Brother Bear it’s time to start his service? I am no respecter of persons. I think religious opportunists fishing for funds in fancy attire have much more to apologize for than jobless people in faded denims!
How does Brother Bear use his Bible? He waves it above his head to show his serfs who’s boss, then he glares menacingly at them and lays into the “laity” (a man-made distinction in My Body). He turns the House of the Lord into a vast woodshed to chastise My poor people who must struggle from paycheck to paycheck so he can skim the “tithes” off their gross income, plus offerings. That amounts to bondservice to Brother Bear, their overbearing overlord. Many of My people cede to Brother Bear the cream of their slim paycheck BEFORE they put food on the table for their own families! How does THAT square with My teaching that I would rather have mercy than sacrifice! And even though I never ONCE commanded New Testament saints to tithe on money, Brother Bear squeezes it out of them with not-so-subtle threats of My retribution.
Has Brother Bear ever really gotten to know one of his poorer listeners, either in his palatial sanctuary or out in TV Land? Does he even know how ordinary folks live, or has affluence blinded him to the way everyday people must struggle just to survive? Does Brother Bear know what it’s like to sacrifice his own well-being for others? Does Brother Bear ever bear the sorrows of the afflicted, like the Good Shepherd does? More than one of his listeners has suffered devastating health problems, or is struggling to raise children alone as a single parent. Many a poor woman cries herself to sleep at night because she’s lost her husband to death or divorce, or perhaps the rascal has run away from his responsibilities as husband and father, and has left her to carry the whole load alone. She dreads the bills the morning mail may bring. She wonders how she’ll ever meet her rent and child care expenses, how she’ll keep her lights on, how she’ll put food on the table or buy her kids decent school clothes. Her life is one long wearisome treadmill. She wonders how long her stamina will last, until the day comes she is too sick to work and might become homeless or destitute. Is Brother Bear going to call such precious souls lazy just because satan has sent the devourer to sap their physical and financial health and strength?
Once I heard this roar from his pulpit: “There’s twelve hours in a working day, six working days, and 72 hours in a working week! Get to work!” Brother Bear looked mad, but my, that man enjoyed that sermon. But how hard does HE work? I don’t see this privileged one slaving at a secular job 72 hours a week. And when people do put in very long working hours, he still grumbles about how they neglect their marriages and their kids and fail to spend “quality time” with them, so they’ll grow up to be good stable believers. Is Brother Bear so bad at math that he can’t subtract his ideal working week from what’s left? Does Brother Bear have lots of time to be with HIS family, or is he a slave to the clock; someone who hates his monotonous way of life but who is expected to drag himself out of bed half-rested, then work two jobs. Why? Well, it isn’t cheap to maintain that façade of “prosperity” Brother Bear demands of his congegation so he can impress the community. Some of My people need an extra paycheck in order to “tithe” on the first one and still have enough money to pay spiraling rent on an apartment which is barely lived in. It’s just a spot for the slave to crash for a few short hours before a screeching alarm clock rings and the same old grind starts again!
Brother Bear is very zealous to bind many grievous burdens upon My precious sheep, which I never authorized him to do. Yet he would never touch one of these burdens with a ten-foot pole (Matthew 23:4). Just how long could Brother Bear last, if I placed on his neck just one of the burdens some of my people out in the pews are under? Could HE work a nurse’s double shift, or slave on an assembly line all day? How could HE cope with feeling like his precious years were going down the drain from endless monotonous work hours and if he felt frustrated, and saw himself as just another cog in a machine at some factory, living to work, rather than working to live? How would HE feel if his boss fired HIM for some trivial reason, and he spent many weary weeks searching for a new job? Why should poor people out in his pews or in TV Land have to suffer his caustic criticisms on top of everything else they have to contend with daily!!!!!
No, I don’t see Brother Bear swinging a hammer or waiting on cranky customers in restaurants, or driving a bus. I don’t see HIM sitting up all night with a sick child before having to go to work early the next morning. Rather, I see a greedy man pleading with people over the air to “prove God” by sending in their best offering, and he will gladly reward the givers with a cheap trinket to say “thank you” for their “love gift to Jesus”.
When was the last time Brother Bear thanked his big tribe for their loving support? Without all the little members there in the pews, Brother Bear would soon be out of a job, and he’d have to toil for his daily bread like they do. It takes far more faith to live without money than with it. Has Brother Bear ever once thanked all his people for getting up early on their one day off (for many of them), getting themselves and their children ready, wolfing down a hurried breakfast, then braving traffic jams and all kinds of weather on Sunday, which is supposedly a day of rest?
How demanding money-obsessed preachers are, like Pharaoh. Pharaoh reached the point where he ordered his slaves to go find their own straw to make bricks with, and doubled their quota too. Brother Bear wouldn’t be bothered by some young mother being so overburdened by long working hours she hardly had time to see her own children. He wouldn’t care if some elderly woman skipped a couple of meals to “save his ministry”. My people are mortgaged to the hilt. They’re harnessed to the expenses of “shepherds” who spend money I don’t have to waste on worthless junk that won’t last throughout eternity. My people can’t be everywhere at once, yet I hear Brother Bear bellowing about their lack of service “to the Lord”, their reluctance to get involved in church activities and personal evangelism. I hear him whining about how the saints are “at ease in Zion”.
But if anybody’s at ease, it’s the Brother Bear-type “shepherds” who fleece the flock. What a hypocrite! Any wise shepherd will let his animals wear their own wool in the winter to keep warm, so they won’t perish from cold. But money-hungry wolves in sheep’s clothing are cold-hearted enough to fleece My flock at all seasons, regardless of the condition they’re in. Brother Bear couldn’t care less about the sorrows of everyday pew occupiers. He knows that when people get fed up enough to stop coming to his services, other trusting souls who don’t know any better will take their place out in the pews, their checkbooks and bank cards in tow.
Speaking of being fed up, My humbler children have had to swallow a lot of unearned rebukes from abusive bears in the pulpit, who are always urging them to sow a seed. Now I’m multiplying back to those big bullies all the cactus seeds they have sown in the hearts of My people.
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