Last night as Steve and I were just settling in to bed, we had the TV in our room turned to a Christian network. We don’t watch much Christian television for a lot of reasons, but what this guy was saying really caught our attention. “I see that you have been struggling in the past 90, 60 or 30 days with finances, with your marriage, with your health, with your children or with stress at work.” While I identified with some of that, I also realized that it was a sort of broad range. Surely MOST people have encountered at least one source of pressure in that list in the last one or two or three months. For the Stern home, the past three months have been a mixed bag of tricks. Some great things have happened and we’ve experienced some awesome breakthrough. Some difficult moments have come our way and some really difficult moments. In short, our lives have been pretty normal when held up against the words of Jesus that “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart – I have overcome the world”. This week, however, has been a very difficult one physically for both Steve and Josiah who have been struggling with health issues. So my ears perked up when this preacher started saying that he had the answer and that today was the day that God was going to turn all of these things around in our lives.
We listened and listened for the “answer”, but he kept going around and around the first mountain. “You have had pressure in the past season, and I’m going to tell you how God is going to set you free from that…” We kept listening and waiting for probably 40 minutes and he never landed the plane so we gave up and went to sleep. This morning I turned the TV on and – behold! – it was the same program and I think it was nearly right where we left off. I believe in the supernatural so I thought that maybe God really DID have something to say to me. He did, but it wasn’t what I thought it was.
Turns out that the way the preacher wants me to find breakthrough in my life – in fact the ONLY way to earn God’s protection, favor and blessing on me and my children – is to go to the phone right now and send the network $300. If I don’t do that, then I can’t expect to ever bust out of this season.
As I listened, I was so sad. In a world that’s dying, we need a real God and not a street thug demanding payment for protection. In a time when pressure really IS intense and love is hard to come by, we need to be more than ever acquainted with the intimate love and compassion of a God who will not, will not, WILL not be in debt to us. I believe in giving and I believe in tithing – with all my heart I do – but I also believe that preachers who use those principles for their own gain are guilty of spiritual malpractice. Does God want my money? I think He mostly wants my heart and money is a good gauge as to how much of my heart He has. But I will not fall prey to tv preachers who want to build a mercenary out of the most merciful God the world has ever known. Its a reproach.
Behold: a God who gives and gives and gives. May our giving to Him in return be a beautiful dance of joy and freedom.