Environmental Interuption

I spent a few days away at the COCWA/Baptist ministers retreat this week.
Wayne Alcorn and Keith Farmer spoke.
I put a post on the COCWA blog regarding some of my thoughts on Wayne’s message, I also made some of my thoughts public at the Churches of Christ ministers breakaway session on Tuesday afternoon at the conference.
After receiving a call from a fellow blogger and person whom I respect, not always agree with mind you, but respect a lot, I have changed some of my comments.
The above mentioned guy suggested I should make these comments on my own blog. I did think that the COCWA was not nec. the views held by COCWA and was open for comment, but I also understand the fact that it is a bit sensitive, so here we go…

I mean no offense, and this is not a personal attack on Wayne per say, I have gone a round of golf with Wayne in my old youth ministry days and as stated on my post, I think he is a man of incredible energy to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

My issue was with what I interpreted as being prosperity teaching, one person objected to the use of this terminology, so I will avoid this and simply state that we were encouraged to get rich in a material way so we could do more for God…

I have no issue with some people (Christians) being rich, in fact it would suggest in the parable of the talents that God does indeed bless some as 5 talent people…some. In fact I would say people who go after riches are on a dangerous slippery slope. I know people who set out in business, not to get rich, but to provide a service, and have done well, very very. Some of them have lost the plot so to speak with their wealth and others have honored God with their wealth. Cool.

Wayne affirmed the book “You Need More Money”, which I have read more than once, in it Brian Huston, suggests that “Money is the answer to everything”, as does King Solomon. Ecc 10:19
The same King suggested that he “hated life” 2:17, and that everything is “utterly meaningless” 1:2 and that the “grave is our ultimate destination” (denying life after death?) 9:10

I am not sure Brian will be writing extensive books on these scriptures.

It was suggested by Wayne that some people intentionally miss the second two words of the scripture “Blessed are the poor…in spirit” (Mt 5) , maybe he should tell that to Luke (Luke 6).
“Blessed are the poor”

It was that comment and others like it that made me convinced on Tuesday night that you can’t construct the kind of message Wayne preached whilst using the teachings of Jesus…just try!

Can I suggest you seek out and read a book I just completed called The Eye of the Needle, you don’t have to embrace it all, I did not, but on the whole it is filled with great biblical teaching on wealth and disciplship. It comes armed with a robust and biblically based text and forewords by Tim Costello and John Smith, two of today’s foremost voices on social action and poverty, Tabor College lecturer Jim Reiher give us some great material to make us think biblically about some of the issues Wayne raised with us.

Again I reiterate – this is not an anti-Wayne or Churches of Christ conference thing. I just feel so strongly about the fact that consumerism is the fastest growing ‘religion’ in our nation that we need to disciple people to use the wealth they have better, not teach them how to get more, no matter for what so called godly reasons and motivations this may have behind it.

End of rant…back to my greenie phase

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31 thoughts on “Environmental Interuption

  1. Couldnt agree with you more there Scott!

    Ive had an issue with Brian Housten and the like for a LONG time regarding this issue.
    I dont think you should hold back from the term “prosperity teaching” because that is exactly what it is.

    Id like to see Brian go preach this in Africa, Thailand, or some other 3rd world country.

  2. Scott, I also was at the conference with my husband and the Monday night session left a bad taste in my mouth. While there were relevant and valid points made by Wayne, by the end of the session I felt really disappointed and empty, I guess I expected more from such a well respected leader. I really admire his passion for change and the way he is and will impact his community, but I prefer a much more low key, relational way of approaching life and ministry.

    When I read about Jesus in the Gospels, he was so understated. Totally counter-cultural and out there, but understated. His super strong yet totally humble and “meek” way of hanging out and communicating with people was hugely effective. So many times in the gospels, while he was surrounded by huge crowds, he actually spent most of his time one on one or in very small groups. And look at the huge impact he had on peoples lives. You don’t actually hear about the thousands of conversions on the sermon on the mount, but you certainly know the woman at the wells life was changed. In fact Jesus rejected the limelight, telling people to get out of the room before he healed the child.

    Anyway, bla, bla… I hope that I am on the journey towards the love and grace that Keith spoke about. I want to have a Godly character that will speak to people whether I am on my front verandah having a beer with a mate or in front of a congregation sharing the Word.

    (Bring on the Hippie commune in Tassie!!! – we’ll dream with you Scottie!!!)

  3. I thought when I moved from the States, I left the health-n-wealth gospel behind. But, as some denominations and churches choose the attractional route it only makes sense that nothing attracts a crowd more than “how to make more money and be more successful” messages. It is disturbing when Proverbs becomes the book of choice for some preachers instead of Matthew through John.

    I wasn’t at the conference, but while people like Brian and Wayne may sincerely believe that we can only minister to people with a full wallet, they seem to ignore the fact that when Jesus sent his disciples in pairs to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God to the various towns, he told them to take no money belt or bag with them.

    Why are the poor blessed (especially for shepherds of Jesus’ flock)? Because pursuit of money is dependance on our own power; poverty is dependance on God’s power.

    While I think you should have posted your opinion on your own blog instead of on the conference host’s site, you speak truth on this. Keep it up!

  4. Yeah Scott, Can’t say much about the teaching at your retreat… (not being there and all..) However what I can agree with is recommending people do read ‘The Eye of the Needle’.. It is a sweet as book. Really worth people reading and thinking over the issues Reiher raises.
    It certainly does make one consider the possible dangers in chasing/creating wealth and trying to live as an authentic Christian. It’s also a short and relatively easy read…

  5. Scott, Can’t say much about the teaching at your retreat… (not being there and all..) However – ‘The Eye of the Needle’ is a sweet as book. Really worth people reading and thinking over the issues Reiher raises.
    It certainly does make one consider the dangers in wealth chasing/creating/teaching and striving to live an authenic Christian life… Plus its also relatively short and easy to read…

  6. Agreed there. I was just talking last night with a good friend about what it means to bless and be a blessing. Being a business man myself and discussing this through my company network, some would say they can’t be a blessing unless they make the $ to do so. My theory is that this is an OT obscure view of blessing. Not that the OT is obscure but that we see the nation of Israel being blessed and being a blessing because of reaching the land of milk and honey? Or we see the likes of David , Solomon etc being blessed because of what they had as far as material possesions? Stephen Said, said some great things about this on an mp3 I grabbed from a link of yours Scott, (sorry can’t remember)
    I guess I’m a pretty simple sort of fella but when I visualise Jesus on the cross I don’t think he’s not blessed or can’t be a blessing. Does it mean he was happy to be there? Does it mean he had wealth? Yet this act was the biggest blessing any man could give and it had nothing to do with anything the world could offer.
    I see blessing as just being in relationship with God, anything from there is a bonus. The fact that He loves me and wants a relationship with me despite some of my sinful actions is enormous! To bless others for me then is to give whatever, my friendship and love, my home, maybe money, maybe work, maybe my life, most of all simply to be Jesus with skin on. I am far from being Jesus but I see blessing others as far more than $.

  7. I have actually heard some preachers justify the accumulation of wealth by saying that Jesus was wealthy, his parents kept the gifts from the wise men as an inheritance for Jesus and he used this massive amount of money to fund his ministry.
    …the son of man has no place to lay his head…
    Hmmm, didn’t use his money too well then did he!!

  8. i was at the conference (love hanging out with the c of c crew)

    i heard wayne’s gab on the monday night & truthfully it didn’t bother me, as i have heard the health, wealth prosperity thing over & over. wayne’s version was stomachable – unlike true mellon heads like copeland & his crew of space cadets, these guys make God sound like he’s our personal bank, the christian version of a get rich quick scheme.

    sounds like wayne does a super job in Qld for the less fortunate & i guess money talks & BS walks.

    my thing with this prosperity caper is that if it’s only for personel gain – you suck & are exploiting & corrupting the bible (these people use the Jesus saying “sow & you shall reap” totally out of context, what about the people??). nowhere in the bible does it say “you take what’s yours & look out for number one, God will make you rich”.

    But I think God can & does move in people’s & ministry’s finacial growth. if we are truly serving i believe that God can do the amazing & provide for his workers & in the expansion of his kingdom, the message bible says in philppians ” you can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.

    I don’t want to get in the way of God doing his thing, but I’m happy to get in the way of people using others, ministrys & God as a money making scheme.

    From the message 1 tim :6 – tell those rich in this worlds wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today & gone tomorrow. tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage – to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. if they do that, they will build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life (& it goes on- check it out)

    anyway’s glad you’re still firing scotty, love ya dude. Keith Farmer Rocks.

  9. Have to agree with you. Job is a good example of you can be both rich and spiritual but not many rich are spiritual. Riches and poverty don’t determine how spiritual a man is. God doesn’t care about your bank account, the size of your house, the car you drive, the job you have, He is looking for people who will live a blameless and upright life in the fear of the Lord (beginning of wisdom) and who hate evil with a passion. One man with God can achieve more than 10,000 men! Amen. I love the testimonies of Godly men who trust in the Lord for “things” that they make known to Him in prayer in the secret place (notice not an appeal, advertisement or announcement to the congregation)and usually these “things” aren’t for themselves but for others to live a better life and know the love of God for them and advance God’s gospel of Jesus. So let us pray that man will hate the sin in his life and pursue God more rather than hate their lack of worldly possessions and pursue mammon more under the false motive of the more I have the more I can bless others.
    God showed me how broken hearted He feels when we walk by someone who needs our SIMPLE help like open the door for them as their arms are full, so don’t get caught up in the I’m not feeding the 5,000 or I’m not rich enough or having anything of worth to bless others and then therefore I’m not good enough, just smile, open the door, a kind word, buy a cup of coffee for a stranger who looks like they could do with one, etc.

  10. Bec, I would encourage you to do some research and thought before you sprout off like you have.

    http://www2.hillsong.com/emerge/default.asp?pid=914

    When was the last time you went to Africa and preached and brought money to them? I dont mean to be offensive or blunt, but I would encourage you to look to yourself, instead of worrying about Houston.

    I was there on Monday, obviously, and would like to add my viewpoint about Wayne.

    Wayne Alcorn shared his story and his incredible church is doing some extraordinary welfare and mission work amongst the prostitutes, poor, marganilised, cross dressers, sexually confused, refugees….. Basically the people other middle class churches dont want. To do the amount of social work they do, they need money. Fortunately for them, they believe in a God who provides for and blesses their ministry.
    God blesses them with money, so they can bless others who need it.

    Its a pretty simple message, and has NOTHING to do with the associations we sometimes associate with the Prosperity theology espoused by TV wackos.

    Wayne does not believe God wants to bless us with a brand new Vespa or $2000 coffee machine, He wants to bless us so we can bless those who are less fortunate. Sounds prety biblical and good to me.

    I reckon we have to get over this poverty mentality. I doubt very much any of us are poor, really poor. We have a house, a coffee and a computer for a start.
    Maybe the reaction against this mesage is based around a deep sense of false guilt.

    Maybe instead of sniping at Wayne from the sidelines, we should get over there and help, or even better, start helping the poor ourselves amd ask and believe in a Father God to bless us so we can be a blessng.

    And Lisa, maybe you should finish the book of Job,

    Job 42. 10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

  11. I was there on Monday during the day and I came away feeling quite uneasy with many of the things that were said. I did appreciate his concern for the down and out people in society; however, there was more attention given to being finanically successful both individually and as a church then there was to people becoming more like Christ. This stood out particularly when the first question asked at Q&A was: “When did you you make your first million?”. Church (and its leadership) was portrayed as a successful business rather than cruciform servant (John 13:1-7). I couldn’t help but think of the saying “God helps to those who help themselves”. But surely it is the contrary, “God helps those who can’t help themselves” (Rom 5:6). Furthermore, I cringed when he used a Bible verse, out of context, to justify not selling his house because it was his kid’s inheritance. What does 1 Peter 1:3-9 have to say about our true inheritance? Lastly, it seems that if any one questioned or disagreed with what he said or does was put in the “cynic’s basket”.

  12. The question asked referred to something he said in the previous lecture about how he had planted a sead for Youth Alive, and now it had made them a million dollars. Reading your post someone might construy it was his personal first million, it was not.
    They made a deal with a phone company and get half a percent which gives them an income of $100, 000 a year for Youth Alive (not Wayne nor his church). This has been going on for 10 years, thus it has provided this ministry with 1 million dollars over 10 years.
    Praise God I reckon.

    As for anyone disagreeing, there was none of that at the conference I went too, at least publicly, but maybe there was some at the C of C meeting, some context to that statement would be helpful.

    All I am asking in the critiques is to be fair about them, accuratelty portray what was said, and why it was said, and then deal with that, not half truths and things than could be easily misunderstood.

  13. Owch! You hit my raw nerve Mr Edwards. Yes, as Shakespere wrote in …Hamlet? McBeth (Whatever) “Me thinks [he] protesteth too much”
    Meaning – the bandwagon we jump on so quickly and ride so passionately is so often the very wagon we are struggling with ourselves.
    You are right Mark. I LOVE BUYING STUFF! I love toys, I love gadgets. I love advertising that makes me want to buy stuff.
    But the truth is, there is a dark side of me that loves naked women too…can you say that on a blog and not get fired??
    I don’t buy or look at pictures of them, I have not stumbled in this area for some time…but I know it’s a dark side of a godly admiration…as is my longing to buy things that maybe I don’t NEED.
    Someone else bought the Vespa for me, but that is not to say that I would not have bent over backwards to get it!
    I can categorically say that I will not be buying the $3000 coffee machine I posted so lustfully on this blog, but that is not to say that I would not like it.
    We sold one of our cars, we grow some of our vegi’s we save water by flushing with a bucket from the shower, and water gardens with bath water often, we still sleep under the same bed sheets/doona we got when we were married 14 years ago! We go to the movies about 4x a year and I try to avoid the shops – all to avoid spending and areas in which consumerism might just take its ugly hold on me.
    We have tried to make deliberate choices to live more simply (cheaply) and also environmentally friendly, we don’t always…I don’t always, my wife is pretty good at it! But we are making conscious efforts to live with less so others might have more…this is not to say ‘what a hero I am’ but rather to admit it’s tough but we are giving it a go.
    Money and wealth are things to be careful with…
    “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” 1 Tim 6:10b
    and in the words of the now infamous Jimmy Bakker “To my surprise, after months of studying Jesus [in jail], I concluded that he did not have one good thing to say about money. Most of Jesus’ statements about riches, wealth, and material gain were in a negative context[…]

  14. Yes Mark, I’m OK with a business making its first million as was the context, I agree there.
    Public disagreements? I was the only one who make a public statement about not agreeing with Wayne, and yes it was in the COC meeting.

  15. Just ‘coz it is soooo important for me to be loved I thought I would quote from Brian Houston’s book, You Need More Money”…something I agree with –
    “A spirit of generosity cannot be proven in a single act, but in a proven lifestyle. Instead of giving with the motivation of self-gain, or as a one-off donation, it is a consistent lifestyle of giving that reveals a spirit of generosity” (pg 78)

  16. in support of mark – that’s exactly why i haven’t commented.

    i wasn’t there… i didn’t hear… i can’t know the context of what was said… i shouldn’t comment.

  17. Wow, you miss one conference…

    My thoughts is that this subject goes to the heart of our western civilization, and so when talked about it will hit many raw nerves! In our culture, life is always easier when we have wealth, because wealth equals power… power of choice, power of influence, power over others, etc…
    When we don’t have choice, influence, or power, things get a lot harder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be achieved.
    I am remembering at the moment the story from John 6 about the boy who brought his five loaves and two fish and Jesus used that to feed 5,000 men, and then women and children on top of that (it says 8 months wages would be what it would cost to give them just one bite!). I think that when God gets involved, He does His thing and we all stand back in awe!
    Spending time listening to God and what He wants to do is what I think is the key to this. If He wants us to give generously of what we have and then He multiplies that to meet a need, then we listen to God. If He would rather let us work out a more creative way of stretching what can give to meet the need then we do that. I believe the key isn’t to try and get as rich as we can, but rather trust God that He will use what we have to do His thing.
    When it becomes a real issue for some is when they fall for the trap of consumerism… saying it’s God’s design for all of us to get rich, because it’ll be easier and we’ll be more influential… and then we see them over time grow more accustomed to their new lifestyle and start to rely more on their wealth than on God…
    My experience is that when I gave up my full-time job to study at Bible College, I had to adjust my lifestyle, give up the company car, eat Black and Gold rather than brand name food… and my relationship with God grew exponentially. The car broke down and I laid hands on the car and prayed, not kicked the snot out of it ! 🙂 and it started and kept going for a week until we had enough money to pay for it to get fixed. We found out the battery and the alternator were both stuffed… how it started up and kept going for a week can only be God…
    I could go on and on with many more stories…
    Anyway, I wasn’t at the conference, I was in Hospital at the time, so I can’t say to much about my agreement/disagreement on what was said…
    I just thought I’d throw my $10.52 into the ring! 🙂
    Let’s look more to helping those who have not, rather than on how much we have… we can’t take it with us anyway!
    🙂

    Cool Crusin’
    Craig.

  18. I think Bec was suggesting the “prosperity” doctrine doesn’t work in developing countries – just ask the “Prayer of Jabez” guy who took the “formula” to Africa!

  19. NEWS FLASH – HUMAN MALE LIKES NAKED FEMALES.

    Sorry Vawz, but liking naked females means you are a heterosexual male with normal levels of male hormones. If someone fires you for that statement alone then it is their mind I’d be worried about more.

    Looking at the whole thread I’ll just add a quick observation – a lot of the discomfort that comes when people mention wealth and spirituality in a linked way is because most people have seen the damage that has been done before and and therefore skeptical when some comes claiming that ‘they have the right way to do this safely’.

    I saw both sides growing up and unfortunately in my experience while ‘wealth’ and ‘god’ seemed to co-exist happily at first there was almost always some unintended negative consequence.

    I’d like to believe that it is possible for it to be done, but I just can’t.

  20. Thanks Mark for your comment re I should read the rest of JOB, however I was agreeing that Job was a good example of that you can be both rich and spiritual but clarifying that being rich or poor doesn’t make you spiritual. I can throw a spanner in the works here too, that’s the old testament, you know all about health and wealth and give 10% to God and leave my 90% alone thingy, well the new and glorious way through Jesus is we give every thing to God. Do you remember how the new Church believers sold all their investment properties and excess things and shared yes shared the proceeds amongst their new found brothers and sisters who had very little, it didn’t go to the Preacher so he may live comfortably. The first preacher that preaches this way of life given to us by Jesus will be OUT. By the way I love the work Wayne and his members are doing, when he was here years ago I so believed in what he was wanting to do I put what I had in my wallet at the time and put it into his hands, the church or he didn’t ask for a donation but I was moved by what he was wanting to do for these down and out people. I feel all of us commenting agree with giving and Wayne’s work, but it’s just this prosperty message of gaining wealth to bless others. First seek the kingdom of God and all else shall be added….

  21. Good grief!! I have ONE RDO and look what happens!

    Mark…firstly…I didn’t sprout off. I simply put across my view. Just as you have.

    Secondly…just as I had “a go” at Brian you have had “a go” at me and others. Doesn’t look to good.

    Thirdly…you completely misread my comment about going to Africa and preaching about money. I was merely suggesting that I don’t think his teachings about ‘getting rich’ would go down to well in Africa. I wasn’t accusing him of not going to Africa and giving money to them. I don’t doubt for one second that Hillsong are active in 3rd world countries. But if he can preach the prosperity doctrine over here than he should be able to preach it over there (not saying that he should). Im merely trying to say that if someone has the balls to preach this rubbish over here than they need to have the balls to preach it to a 3rd world country. The Gospel doesn’t change from one country to the next.

    You don’t know me and what I have done with my finances. I think it was a pretty stupid question to ask when the last time I’d been to Africa and given them money? What the heck??
    You missed the whole point Mark.

    I encourage you to stop pointing the finger at us and expect us to not point the finger. It goes both ways Mark.

  22. Grace…Grace…Grace and blogging, maybe I should do a post and we could all comment and this topic…grace and blogging.
    Loves yaz all

  23. Glad I got your attention Bec.

    The question I asked was meant to be rhetorical, not personal, apololgies if you took it that way.
    I believe it is a valid question, something about, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”

    Do you think the people in Africa need more money? I reckon they do.

    As to sprouting off, “I’ve had an issue with BH for a long time”, reads like sprouting off to me, but there you go, we are allowed to have differences of opinion.
    Blessings 🙂

  24. sheesh it was a joke vawz.

    Mark, I dont know how I couldnt take your comment personally?

    Anywho…its water under the bridge. I dont stay angry long.

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