Are you robbing God? Am I robbing God? Are you robbing God? How can I be robbing God? I’m a good person.I didn’t ask if you are a good person. I asked if you are robbing God.What is he talking about? This guy really is a mad pastor!
Do you go to church? Yes. Do you take a program? Of course, I’m handed one when I walk in. Do you enjoy the air conditioning? Thank God for air conditioning! Do you ever go to the bathroom? What kind of question is that? First you accuse me of robbing God and now you want to know if I have bowel movements. This is getting weird.
Do you drink the coffee the church serves? These questions don’t end do they? If I answer this last question will you stop?Just one more question…. Do you put anything in the offering plate? Sometimes… occasionally, define what you mean by putting something in the offering plate…
Ananias and Sapphira robbed God. They robbed God while they simultaneously gave God their money. That’s odd. Did they owe God anything? No. God asked nothing of them. They freely offered it. They were not sent a bill, were not compelled, were not even asked to give. But they sold a piece of land they owned, kept back some of the money, and gave the rest to the disciples. So it is about money because they lied about how much they sold the land for.
It’s not about the money. I don’t get it. First you talk about robbing God, then programs, air conditioning, toilets and coffee. I know it’s about the money. It’s always about the money.
God has all the money he needs. It’s not about the money. It’s about something else.
When Ananias and Sapphira gave, it was right after another man sold his property and gave the proceeds. A man named Joseph sold a field he owned and gave the disciples all the money. He was nicknamed the Son of Encouragement. But when Anny and Sapphy sold their land, they withheld some of the money before giving the disciples the rest. They claimed it was all the money they made off their property but they lied. The result of their misrepresentation was death. But they weren’t punished over money.
This story happens early in the Book of Acts when the Christian community was being developed. New believers were gathering together and living together in community. People benefited from the donations of others. In fact, when some women weren’t getting their fair share of food, the disciples created the deacons to make sure they were included in the daily distribution of food. Being in that community had its benefits. Giving to that system brought honor to God because it demonstrated how he cared for his people.
When Ananias and Sapphira lied about what they gave, it wasn’t about the money. It was about taking advantage of a system designed to honor God and benefit others. But they manipulated that system to make themselves look good. They stole honor for themselves by undercutting God. They coveted all the benefits to the point of stealing them.
When you go to a church, whether you are a member or a regular visitor, you benefit from the community of God. The church pays for the programs handed out, the staff to prepare them, the custodian to clean up after you, the water bill, the electricity bill, the coffee you drink after service. You hear a message, sing songs, maybe even have a prayer said on your behalf. When you walk into that building you benefit from that environment. Did you think all that stuff was free?
Sometimes people say,I don’t need to give, I volunteer. You need to give. God requires it. Volunteering doesn’t pay the gas bill.
I don’t like the pastor, I will give to the youth fund. If you don’t like the pastor, talk to him/her. Don’t threaten their livelihood. They make their house payment, feed their children, and pay their bills with their income.
I disagree with the direction the church is going in. But you don’t disagree with showing up and benefiting from what the church does offer. If you don’t like the direction the church is going in, then talk to the pastor or go to another church.
Go to another church? That’s awfully mean. You’re a mean pastor.No I’m not. I’m the Mad Pastor. Don’t confuse mad with mean. And don’t confuse the purpose of community in the church. The community of a church is to honor God, not to take advantage of it for our own benefit.
We would not expect the right to go to a restaurant and eat the food without paying. A business’ bathrooms are often reserved for customers. Because customers help pay the water bill and the unlucky kid who has to clean it up after you. Why should we expect the right to go into a church, enjoy the air conditioning, drink the coffee, and listen to the music, then complain about what we don’t like all while letting the plate pass by us?
Ananias and Sapphira took advantage of God. It was never about the money. What is it about for you?
The story of Ananias and Sapphira can be read here
I used to be a great dancer. Every time someone asked me for money I was able to maneuver my way out of it.
I was a tightwad. Don't be nice and tell me I was frugal. I was cheap. I had a lot of good moves. I could win a dance marathon. I look back at some of the decisions I made with my money and I'm a little embarrassed. Since I've been married, my wife has helped me transform into a giver. Now, together my wife and I tithe. That means we give the first 10 percent of the money we earn to the church and various ministries. It wasn't easy at first. But I made the decision to trust God. I wasn't able to tithe before because I wasn't able to trust God. I have found new joy in giving.
I know that sounds kind of mad... I give away my money and I feel good about it. But it's true. OK - maybe I am a little mad. But the more I show God my faith, the more he shows me his faithfulness. Don't get me wrong, I'm not buying God's love. I'm just saying that the more I show God I trust him the more he honors that trust I place in him.
Now on Sunday mornings when the plate comes around I feel good about what we put in. I have to admit my wife writes the check. The first time I sat down to write a check to the church my hand started to shake and I couldn't spell out the amount. I apparently still needed time to transform into a giver. Since then my wife has continued to write the checks and I am OK with it. Besides, I'm busy giving the sermon and doing other things anyway. However, we go over our finances together and it actually feels good to see what we are giving.
A lot of us do some dancing when we're asked to give. We sidestep our financial responsibilities, dip under a request, pirouette around a promise we made, and we do a tango with our own responsibility as human beings to help out our neighbor. We don't like to let go of what we have. But dancing like that is like trying to loose your dance partner in order to control the room. Some dances require a partner. But no dance that is forced is enjoyable.
What joy it could be if we would do a different kind of dance. To find delight in sharing. To give our resources without trying to push someone else away. To share the dance floor and allow God, as a partner, to leads us across the room to the rhythm of a new song.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - 2 Corinthians 9:7
Even though I now feel good giving, I'm not ready to get up and dance in the middle of service. Does giving make you feel as good as this guy?
An Ohio church plans to give away $1000 this Easter. Lindenwald Baptist Church in Hamilton will draw two names, a member and a guest. Each person will win $500. The money is given away in order to draw in more visitors. And it works. Last year the church gave away $1000 in the hopes of bringing in 1000 people and over 1100 showed.
Now I’m all for unique ideas about getting people into church but I think this is a little weird. The purpose of the Church is to bring people into a relationship with Christ. I understand the concept of marketing the church. I’m not offended when churches do events and promotions to attract people. After all, how is the church going to tell people about Jesus Christ if you can’t even get them to come?
But money? Cold hard cash? Then again, my church has less than 100 on an average Sunday. This Easter I will probably see 125. Lindenwald will see over 1,000. For the cost of less than $1 a person, Lindenwald will share the Easter story with new faces. And they’ll likely get that money right back by through all the visitor and member donations. Now that I think about it, it seems like a pretty cost effective strategy.
So what do you think? Has Lindenwald Baptist found a radical new way to draw people in to experience the Easter story? Or are they just padding the attendance for one day out of the year and calling that a success? I’d like to know how many people come the Sunday before Easter and after.
Saul Kassin, an 89 year old rabbi in New York pleaded guilty on March 28 to illegal cash transmission. His charges were reduced from the more serious accusation of money laundering. According to CNN.com, “The rabbi was discovered as part of an FBI undercover investigation, "Operation Bid Rig," which made news in July 2009 when 44 civic leaders and public officials were arrested on the same morning for public corruption and money laundering. Among the 15 arrested for money laundering, five were rabbis who were alleged to have laundered collectively more than $3 million, officials said at the time.”
Do I need to say it? This drives me mad!
Perhaps Kassin and his colleagues need to be reminded of the story of Achan. Achan was one of the men who were seeking God’s Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua led an attack against a fortified city called Jericho. It is a famous battle in the Bible where Joshua and his people defeat a city, not by their military might, but by their faith in God’s promises. All the silver, gold, bronze and iron of the city was to be given to the treasury of God’s house. But Achan stole some of these things and hid them under his tent.
Achan’s greed led to God’s anger toward everyone. When Achan’s crime was discovered, he and his family were killed and their bodies burned. (Read Achan’s full story here.)
The Bible doesn’t have a lot of good endings for people who steal from God. What makes Achan’s story so hard to read is that all of his people suffered when he stole. Then not only he, but also his family members faced the death penalty. We don’t even know if they participated in his crime. They may have been completely innocent.
That’s the problem with crime and stealing; even the innocent suffer. Kassin and four other rabbis stole from people and God. Now their organization has made God to look like a fool, just another guy to steal from. And the rest of the world looks at God and religion as another institution that shouldn’t have our trust, attention, or resources.
Call me mad but in order for God to be holy, Kassin and his colleagues have to be punished. God cannot allow himself to be lied to, cheated, stolen from and at the same time maintain his glory. Kassin’s greed hurt the charity he controlled, other believers who may now question their faith, his own family who has to live with the shame of his actions and unbelievers who are already skeptical of religious leaders. Worst of all, as a leader in his religion, he challenged the authority of God himself.
What do you think? How much should Kassin and the other rabbis pay for their illegal transactions? How does Achan’s story and his family’s punishment translate to this modern day story?