Rational Facts and Falsehoods about Faith and Finances (Part one)

  In a few weeks, Lord willing, my wife and I will be attending the Pastors Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.  One of the speakers this year is a young up and coming preacher named David Platt.  We heard him preach last year, and the Lord blessed our hearts.  I look forward to hearing him preach again.  He recently published a book that has spread like wildfire among the professed Christian world.  The book is entitled, “RADICAL Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.”  If I remember correctly, much of the message that Dr. Platt preached last year was along the same vein of the subject of his new book.  Now before I go much further there are two things that I need to say here.  1.) I am in complete agreement with the “theme”, “title”, and “basic idea” of the book.  I have said for many years, that there can be nothing more unbiblical than the message that we give to young people year after year to follow their dreams.  You and I are never to follow our dreams, we are to follow our Lord.  That is a fundamental Bible fact that ought to be settled into every soul.

2.) I have not read the book!  I have read reviews of the book, and I have heard from people who have read the book, but I have not read the book.  I do plan on reading it, but I have other things going on in my life, and the life of my church at this point in time.  I do expect the book to be good, and I do expect to be challenged, convicted, and enlightened all at the same time. 

This article is not about the book. It is however, about some of the results, reactions, and comments that are coming from those who have read the book. 

At this time in our  culture there is a hostility and an animus within professed Christendom against the office and character of pastors, and it appears that some are using this book as more fuel for the fire in which they proverbially burn men at the stake.

Now I will ALWAYS give this caveat. – Some men are crooks.  Some men are hirelings.  Some men are abusers of the office.  Some men have no business in God’s business, and should be rooted out.  Jesus told us that there would be false prophets, and false ministers during the last days.  If there weren’t, then the Bible would not be true. 

The problem is that too many people are attempting to throw ALL pastors under the bus, and they are using their own criteria for such a decision. 

For example, one of the reviewers of Dr. Platt’s book writes, “Pastors, if your people read and are not stirred, they are lost. If you read it, and are not convicted, you should be fired! If you choose not to read it, you will miss a blessing and are unqualified to lead anyone in anything involving the Kingdom.”  

I am not really sure who gave the writer of this comment such authority, but I am quite sure that it was not God.  Listen to this again.

 – If you’re people read this and are not stirred, they are lost?  So your response to this book is a clear sign of whether or not you are saved?  Not really.  The Holy Spirit stirred, convicted, and moved Paul to embark on his three missionary journies.  But He didn’t do that to Thaddeus.  He didn’t do that to Timothy.  Timothy was to stay at Ephesus. 

The fact is that the Holy Spirit may put his pointed finger on a nerve in one person, that He hasn’t put on the nerve of another person.  We all have differing gifts, differing callings, and differing ministries and purposes in God’s grand plan.

Pastors . . . if you read this and are not convicted you should be fired!  So my calling from God, and current condition with God rests squarely upon my response to this man made book?  I thank God that Pinecrest Baptist Church is not that shallow.  Even if I agree with every word of Dr. Platt, his book is no test for a man’s calling, condition, or conviction.  Pinecrest Baptist Church holds my feet to the fire of the scriptures, of which I am deeply grateful.  I have no greater joy than when someone calls me on Tuesday to double check something I said on Sunday.  Or when someone finds a verse of scripture that underscores something we’re preaching through.  Our people are like the Bereans, they search the scriptures daily to make sure that what I am preaching is so. 

If you choose not to read it, you will miss a blessing and are unqualified to lead anyone in anything involving the Kingdom . . .Now what qualifies me as being called of God is my decision about when and/or whether not I choose to read this book.  I dare say that I have probably missed more blessings than I have caught.  I have many books that I haven’t read yet.  Does that mean I cannot lead someone to Jesus Christ through the simple presentation of the gospel?  Do I need to go back to the countless people that I have had the privilege to be with when they asked to receive Jesus in their hearts, and tell them I wasn’t qualified?  What about all of those preachers, teachers, and believers, that come before this book was ever written?  Were they not qualified to lead?  You may say Preacher . . . you’re taking this a little too far.  No, I’m putting the brakes on others who make more out of a good book than should be made.

What amazes me the most is the double standard by which Pastors are being measure by some people. Now let me say this.  I am a pastor.  I am not rich, but my church takes very good care of my family.  I do not live in a run down shack, nor do I live in a $300,000 home.  Pinecrest Baptist Church does their best for me, and I seek to return the favor.

On another blog I read, someone made the statement that there will be “no rich preachers in heaven.”  I don’t know if there will or not.  However the financial standards that they hold to preachers, many of the critics will not submit to themselves.

For example, If Big Boy Baptist Church called me tomorrow, and said, “Jeff, we’ll triple your salary and benefits if you’ll come be our pastor.” Then if I said, “Sure, I’ll be there tomorrow.”  Immediately, everything I’d ever preached, every person I’d ever ministered too, every good thing I’d ever done, would be erased from the hearts and minds of the people that thought they knew me.  You may say, you’re right!  That would be sorry.

That would reveal that Mammon is my Master.

Now what’s that got to do with me being a pastor.  That’s not an indictment against me because I am a pastor, that’s an indictment against me as a Christian!

There is no difference in one pastor leaving a church for more money than there is another man or woman leaving McDonalds to work at Burger King for $2 more an hour! 

Money is not only not to be the Pastor’s guide, it’s not to be ANYONE’s guide.

In the next article, I will take this a little further, but I will leave here with this.  The fact that someone HAS money does not automatically mean, 1.) They’ve pursued it, 2.) They’re sinning, 3.) They are materially minded, or that they are misusing it.

We are getting to the point that when one pastor is bad, they’re all bad.  When one rich person is a crook, they are all crooks.  When one church is being foolish, they are all being foolish.  Learning to stop throwing everyone under the bus would certainly be a change worth making.

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