SHAMING PASTORS WHO REOPENED THEIR CHURCHES

I read the article about a highly visible megachurch pastor who was embarrassed by his fellow pastors because they said he “started a spitting contest” with the government.

As I read the article about this pastor, it felt like Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Prince Harry. My first thought was, “Who cares what these people think?” My second was, “How can two obscenely wealthy people make themselves out to be victims?” Or, as in the case of this pastor, “How can his critics be so smug toward those who struggle in smaller churches?”

He said he is “embarrassed” by churches that engaged in “spitting matches” with state and local governments over COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, lamenting that far too many churches “abandoned the mission for the sake of the model.”

He went on, “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. We’re the Body of Christ. We’re not in it to win it.’ As you’re in it to win it, you’ve abandoned our New Testament mandate. We’re in it to serve, and there is more need than there has ever been. Everybody’s experiencing the same thing, all at the same time—that’s never happened before. Not just all over our communities, our country, but the whole world,” he charged. 

This pastor said the pandemic “presented the church with a tremendous opportunity to focus on external ministries and accelerate online programs.”

He is wrong.

1. Pastors who reopened did not “abandon the mission for the sake of the model.” These brave pastors do not reopen just because of a model of meeting in buildings. To reduce their heroic act to a nostalgic need for a model is truly insulting.  These men and women of God did not face persecution, fines, and arrests for a model!

They were also obeying the Bible’s specific instructions about the last days: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

No wonder this pastor believes that a clear Biblical command is just an outdated model. He has demonstrated a lack of reverence for scripture before. He even once taught that we need to “uncouple ourselves from the Old Testament.”

The cause of pastors who have reopened their churches is freedom and justice. They were obeying God rather than man. They were opposing a blatant violation of the First Amendment. While this celebrity pastor may think he wants to preach the gospel—he is utterly wrong because he is not opposing the attempt by the Left to ban the Gospel in America that will inevitably come. It was the leaders who reopened their sanctuaries who were standing for soulwinning.

2. Then this celebrity pastor said: ““I thought, ‘Wait a minute. We’re the Body of Christ. We’re not in it to win it.’ As you’re in it to win it, you’ve abandoned our New Testament mandate. We’re in it to serve…”  The church is supposed to serve, but she is not supposed to act like a battered wife and remain loyal to a tyrannical government. The same church that stood against racial injustice must also stand against a rogue government that is codifying immorality and perversion—a rogue government that is silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda.

The lockdown of the church and small businesses was not done to stop the virus. If it were, then big box stores would not have stayed open. And why were Black Lives Matter protestors and Antifa, standing shoulder to shoulder without masks, allowed to riot and to destroy $1.9 billion in property?

Democrats see small businesses and churches as strongholds for the family values they are trying to destroy. This was never about stopping a virus—it was always about destroying the opposition. The brave preachers who have refused to shutdown are being faithful to the mission! Just as Paul opposed the officials in Acts 16:37 when he said to them “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

3. This pastor is arrogantly forgetting that he had enough money to remain closed when many of these smaller churches did not. Not only this, but some churches closed for good because they couldn’t afford the bells and whistles that online technology demanded. This is truly hurtful. And it grows out of what I believe is his disdain for smaller churches. He once even intimated that parents who didn’t walk away from smaller churches to join ones that could provide a good program for their children were being selfish.

This mega church pastor should not be embarrassed by his brethren. He should be ashamed of himself. By insulting his fellow preachers who acted out of duty and truth, he has sided with and encouraged the enemies of the church. He is grandstanding to “woke” enemies of the church. He is virtue signaling to the people who hate God and discouraging the ones who do love God.

The Covid crisis has shown which pastors are following scripture. Some have held in-person services since July amid the many restrictions placed on churches by California. Yet one of the largest California megachurch pastors doesn’t believe California is targeting Christianity. He said the virus crisis has “revealed a fundamental weakness in the Church” which is that most churches view worship as their only purpose. Wait. What? He said that worship is all those churches have. But HIS church has more than JUST worship! His church has: ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship going on. He apparently thinks his church is unique, and that other churches are lacking those four purposes that his church has going on.

Let me say that I have never been prouder of those of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have opened their churches. God bless you all!

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THEIR STORY IS OUR STORY. SO WHO WERE THOSE SHEPHERDS THAT NIGHT?

Who were those shepherds? They are us. Their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme.  We share a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today.  They are so much like us!  Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire.  For them, it was Rome, for us it is China. 

Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar.  Some of our Democrat leaders take bribes, appease our enemies, attack Christian values, and apologize to the world for our greatness. The faith of the shepherds’ forefathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep.

We have watched governors and mayors go crazy, destroying small businesses and jobs.  Can Americans relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and doing their jobs on cruise control?

What do we want most for Christmas?  Let me propose an answer.  What we want most in all of this mess is good news.  We could sure use some good news!  It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions, and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now?  What message do you need from God right now?

What we want most is a visitation of God.  It is easy to think that we want something else, but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it.  In 1982 I watched as San Jose was enveloped by the Glory of God.  It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now.  The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was even worse than today.  Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks!  The presence of God that filled the building evaporated fear and worries.

Yes, the people needed jobs desperately, but somehow, it was overruled by the Glory of the Lord.  Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life.  Things other than material things became important.  Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of that precious moment in their life.

I am a Pentecostal. It is that simple.  I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me, fear, worry and anxiety all vanish.

What the Angels did was to turn those shepherds’ priorities upside down.  We know the Bible says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you,” but in the daily grind, it can seem to be an impossible task.  Moments ago, these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd, to the point that they would have gladly fought to the death to protect their flock.  But after the announcement made by the angels, they were ready to run to a manger, oblivious of the sheep they were leaving behind.

Yes, we need jobs, healing, and many other things, but what we need most is the Glory.  Glory will make our soul gaze at God, and as we gaze, distracted by His splendor, God will fix the issues of our life.  Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “how-to-Christianity.”  It seems so right to get practical teaching on relationships, money, and handling emotions.  And that is the very problem! We have been taught that we need to “handle our lives” and “fix” ourselves.

This is the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our own wits, and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.

Why did God skip the theologians, the priests and the king, and send those angels to the shepherds?   This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out of studying the prophets, reading the times, and being “in the know,” who were overlooked in favor of these lowly shepherds!

We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club, or some kind of status, but are we qualified for a visitation of God?

What if these are not the bad times?  Maybe the bad times were back when you had money and toys.  Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little more deeply, and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful.  Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into a position to be visited by God.

So, thank God for your circumstances. You have been born for these very times. They have come from His nail-pierced hands, and the very trials you are going through are preparing you for your destiny!