If We Only Understood

I rarely dream, but when I do, it is about something in my conscious thoughts. The aspiration I will share with you comes with a great message.

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”  Acts 20:28

I dreamed, recently, my wife and I was driving through a neighborhood on a brief sight-seeing tour of a town. She stopped the car as we noticed a church called Humbled Ministries. The billboard outside the church flashed a recognizable pastor’s name – it was someone I longed to meet. It piqued my curiosity, even though I detest ministers who advertise religion as if they are running for a political office.

Like so many other famous clergymen, he is so unobtainable when the public reaches out to him. But I thought, wow! I can finally write this off my bucket list. I climbed about six or seven steps and cracked open one of the heavy double doors. For such a large church, it had a small vestibule! Another set of double doors led into a tiny sanctuary. I didn’t understand the complexity of having such scaled-down amenities in an enormous complex.

I stood in the doorway and could literally count the number of parishioner’s heads. It confused me! Why would this church, in the middle of nowhere, and partially filled with poor, working-class people have a prominent named evangelist on their marquee? I stood quietly in the doorway, waiting for his grand entrance to the pulpit. A pastor, instead, was reading scriptures from the Book of Luke.

So, where was this all-powerful minister I was dying to meet? Suddenly a telecaster flashed the famous face in living color. My inner thoughts were best not spoken in church. I found myself in another dead-end altercation, much like meeting the wizard who lived in the land of Oz.

As I woke from the dream, my thoughts gathered a list of renowned clergymen, only seen on TV or the internet who oddly title themselves “men of Christ.” You know who I mean, don’t you? They wear their $600 suits on camera and speak the Lord’s messages. Regular outsiders can never reach them because customer service staff filters the calls and emails. They are much too busy to talk to those who need guidance. Doesn’t this tell you a lot about who they truly are and what is more important to them? Money!

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.” Matthew 23: 5-8

When Jesus walked upon the earth, His integrity and personal touch WAS His message to the world. He blessed the poor, healed the sick, and scorned the rich who believed in their idolatry of money. He made little of His contacts in religious settings. Jesus asked most of the questions in conversations because it was His way of connecting with people’s thoughts and feelings.

Today, we can turn on the television and see the fancy attire of ministers parading behind a pulpit. They make millions from their shows and books, yet they are unreachable because they are categorized a “personality.” Is this really how Jesus views them? It’s no wonder many Christians walk away from sanctuaries!

If we only understood, it would sadden Jesus, today, by the clergymen who claim themselves a “personality.” Ordained ministers bear the privilege and responsibility of being servants and leaders in the ministry of the Church. The keyword here is servants. Yes, these famous pastors I speak of today are spiritual leaders, but are they servants? Are they sustaining the community of the faithful? No, they do not, unless it’s accompanied by a hefty paycheck. It’s an incredible disgrace to the Church!

I find it strange we lost the very essence of God’s intentions. I can only pray for those who’ve lost their way and are searching for the only gift they cannot find – a good steward to give them advice and peace. The gift from God is the joining of hands in prayer and leading the believer to worship through personal contact. Communication will set the integrity in relationships between the clergy and members in society – not a television screen. Oh, if we only understood… the mockery!


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Ego Avenue

The giant oaks turned golden in the fall, shading the avenue of homes trimmed of gold. The walkways of washed aggregate and stained concrete floors in the garage smell of money. An oriental rug lies squarely beneath the oil plug of the minister’s Rolls and Bentleys. It’s a lovely life – a weekend cabin in the foothills of the Castiles, a yacht swaying at the dock of their favorite country club. Their lifestyles are of the rich and famous. Do I need to tag them with names for you or the descriptions of these church leaders who appear on TV and radio, bearing witness?

Have you ever tried to contact these evangelists personally even if you are a member of their congregation? Several of these ministers started following my blog last year. I tried to respond to some of their emails, but a computer-generated nonresponse system returned it. One such minister put an email address at the bottom of his correspondence with an enticing note to always feel free to connect with him. Are you kidding me? This is a man who is a public servant of God, and he lies about his contact information on his website and newsletters! It makes me wonder…

I used to collect mail from a rather sizeable religious outfit who films daily television and documentary shows. I’d call it a church, but it was all about money. I never met the soft-spoken old man who read from the pulpit, though he wasn’t there when I entered the building. He hides behind the silver screen while anointing his son to be the Senior Pastor.

Another younger notoriety wears his sacred cross, but is more concerned of the welfare of his structures, which he owns, than of those whose dollars helped to build it. An example of his personal greediness was during a hurricane which hit his area two years ago. Homeless people, seeking comfort from the storm, stood outside in nature’s wrath because he wouldn’t open his church doors. Perhaps he was afraid of damages incurred – a chunk out of his own pocket which might affect the mortgage payment on his $10.5 million home.

I could continue with my tirade, but Christians are smart enough to observe who indeed professes to do the Lord’s work. There was only one minister I knew who was genuine and a spiritual adviser to many Presidents. His money filtered through to the crusades he conducted in 185 countries on six continents. He passed away last year and now works for Christ in a different capacity.

I see the actions of these Bible scholars, who can’t live what they preach in front of millions. Most believers are aware clergy are the amongst the lowest-paid occupations. So, how are they living in mega mansions and in the lap of luxury? Do they ever use their personal income from TV appearances and other sources to give back to their communities? Or is preaching the Word of God just a business designed to make them a millionaire?

As I look down Ego Avenue and observe its evilness, I thank God for my health and my wife who keeps me in check. A simple Christian writer and life, I am blessed by the Holy Spirit, and I have peace in my soul. A few friends asked me if I was afraid of giving out my cell phone number which is written on my business cards. My honest reply was why? I’m no better than the mentoring I try to give to others. I meet many wonderful people from around the world – some famous, but most are common folk. I treat everyone the same. Spiritual leaders should be receptive and have personal contact with believers, especially with individuals they follow on social media.

To those who live on Ego Avenue and read my blogs, are you better than our Lord? After all, Jesus was a dirt poor man, and he was always reachable in desperate times. He laid the foundation for your obligations as a clergy member – to provide spiritual, moral guidance, and assistance to believers. If I’m wrong, then please correct me.

My examples of hypocrites and false witnesses, in the name of our Lord, only touch the surface of the United States. I’m sure dozens more exists in countries worldwide. Some may say security issues are dilemmas facing the famous religious leaders, but I highly doubt this. Too many other upstanding clergy submerge themselves in others’ lives unharmed. I think the root of the problem is simple – the love of money. Perhaps it should be explained as “delivering God’s word in order to become a millionaire.” Call it greed or narcissism; either way, God will place a harsher judgment on them. As someone once said, “Knowledge is a dangerous thing!”

Are there any “amens” to my point of view?