What's with the Long-Handled Spoon?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moses was responsible for leading some three million people upon their exodus from Egypt. No doubt this was a daunting task. Moses would spend his day hearing the matters of all the people and consulting God on their behalf. His father-in-law Jethro told him that it was not good nor was it healthy to continue to lead the people in that manner. According to Exodus 18, Jethro instructed Moses to do the following:

  1. Teach the people the ordinances and statutes of God; in other words, show them how to walk.
  2. After teaching the people, Moses was to appoint men, not just anyone but men who 1) fear God, 2) are truthful and 3) are not covetous or who take bribes to assist him in governing the people.

Because Moses followed the instruction of his father-in-law, he was able to concentrate on weightier matters and hear from God. Moses had to delegate or outsource his tasks. He needed able bodies to help carry the vision. So he taught the people and sent them out to carry out the business of governing the people of Israel. It was near impossible for Moses to have personal contact with approximately three million people.

Elijah and Elisha - Elisha left his family to become Elijah’s servant and attend to his needs. He watched his teacher, learned from him and when we see Elijah taken up to heaven, Elisha calls him, “My father, my father.” This speaks of more than just teacher-student relationship. Their relationship evolved into that of father and son like we see in the New Testament.

Jesus and the Apostles - Jesus hand selected 12 men to be his disciples. He ate with them, taught them, empowered them, sent them out, got frustrated with them, and encouraged them. This type of leadership is very hands on. It’s the kind of relationship you have with those who will succeed you. You pour into them, you teach, you correct, and in the end, you have people who are committed and passionate about the God-inspired vision and purpose.

Paul and his sons Timothy and Titus - The Apostle Paul was a father figure to Timothy and Titus. He instructed them, prayed for them, spent time with them and eventually sent them out to take care of Kingdom business.

Jonathon and David - These two men were friends and brothers. Jonathon knew David would eventually take the throne one day from his father Saul so he prepared David for the palace. Again this was an intimate relationship. This wasn’t David paying Jonathon $1500 for a Learn How To Be King One Day course.

Wondering where I am going with this?

In the examples cited, the nature of the relationships was hands on. The teacher was involved in the life of his pupil. Paul knew Timothy’s mother and grandmother; he knew that Timothy was struggling as a leader because of his age and so on. Timothy and Titus were Paul’s spiritual sons and they interacted as such.

What I do not understand is how today’s spiritual leaders think they can teach and impart into spiritual sons and daughters and not be close or hands on if you will. I truly do not understand this. They want to lead this intimate group as if they are Moses dealing with millions. They have all kinds of buffers in place and levels of bureaucracy for a group of people with whom they are supposed to disciple, teach, and impart into. It makes about as much sense as me trying to rear my children while living on the moon.

It is a phenomenon that leaves many sons and daughters a bit lost and confused. They serve faithfully in a ministry, the call of God on their lives is evident and they are ignored by leadership or are fed with a long-handled spoon. Now these are not people who want to simply get what you have and are gone tomorrow; these are true sons and daughters.

If I had to speculate as to why this is so, I would guess unresolved hurt and insecurity to be the main enemies. Maybe they have no idea how to be a spiritual parent and so they avoid anything that would expose this perceived weakness. But what first time parent knows what they are doing? Some leaders surround themselves with an air of grandeur and self-importance even with their spiritual sons and daughters. It would be easier to call a meeting with the Secretary of State than to schedule face time with these leaders. Then some leaders have no intention of training a successor because the ministry is all about them anyway.

The biblical examples stated above were based on love. There was no abuse. Fathers and teachers poured into willing sons and students. They gave of themselves because they knew the call was bigger than their personal ministry. It really was about advancing the Kingdom of God; His purpose and His agenda. The passing of this Great Message from one generation to the next must continue and it is up to leaders to impart and empower those who will succeed them. And you can’t do that with a long-handled spoon.

Man and woman of God, don't be afraid of these God-ordained relationships that require high levels of intimacy. Will you get frustrated in the process? Yes. (Read about it here.) Will you always have the right answer? Probably not. But by pouring into those God has ordained to you, the Kingdom of God advances and in the end, that's all it's truly about.

Continue the good fight man and woman of God.

You're taking territory!


The Church of Hophni and Phinehas

Monday, August 17, 2009

Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt. - 1 Samuel 2:12-17, New Living Translation

What has happened to the worship aspect of the offering in the House of God?

What is this thing that has become the norm?

Scripture tells us plainly how to bring our offering.

Paul tells us to give cheerfully and not grudgingly and not out of necessity. (2 Cor. 9:6-8)

Jesus even tells us that when we do good deeds, we should do so in secret. (Matt. 6:1-4)

So what is this auction style, public display style of giving that has entered God’s house?

God says, “I see and I am not pleased.”

For those unaware of this event it occurs like this. A minister will finish ministering and lift an offering; it could be the second offering of the service.

The minister will ask for a specific seed offering and ask those who will stand with him in giving this amount to either stand or lineup in the aisles. I have seen ministers give prophetic word to people as they come and bring this seed which really sends up red flags and gives the appearance that one is somehow paying for a prophetic word which is no different from paying the psychic to tell one’s future. We are commanded to abstain from the very appearance of evil! (I Thess. 5:19-22)

I have seen people bring their offering to the minister; they look at the amount, cross it out, and write a different offering amount on their envelope and the giver was told to bring that amount next time.

Then there is the guilt offering; completely different from the one in the book of Leviticus. This offering has everything to do with making you feel guilty because you are not in the $200 seed offering line. I was at an event and I had x amount of dollars to give. Way below the asking price of the traveling minister but I truly wanted to give and it was all I had. The minister went on to say that the price of wearing a clergy collar in his church was $100 in any offering he was lifting. Never mind if this was the first, second, or third service in a conference or revival. If he called for a $100 seed offering, those ministers were expected be in line; check in hand. He went on to say that he wanted everybody to give no less than $20 in that offering. The whole while he was talking, Holy Spirit and I were having a tug a war with the check I had written. He said, “Put it [the check] back in your purse.” Again, I was so blessed and wanted to give and went for my puny check and Holy Spirit very adamantly said, “Leave it in your purse!” So I didn’t give in that offering. I wanted too, but sensed Holy Spirit was truly offended.

It never ceases to amaze me how we can have such an awesome move of God and then immediately experience Ichabod – the glory departed – when it is time for offering. Why? Because the Church of Hophni and Phinehas is open and ready for business.

These sons of Eli made the Lord’s offering detestable. They demanded how they wanted the offering and in some instances took the offering by force and the bible says these two men caused the people to sin.

I fear the people of God have become immune to this behavior and that it is not an offering unless you have been coerced into giving which again goes against scripture. This behavior has taught believers not to even seek God beforehand on what to give in these special services. The demands will be made upon you when you get there. The flip side is that if these demands are not placed the offerings suffer; the people usually do not give. Why? Because the people of God have not been taught how to truly give, how to seek God and hear Him about giving and receive the benefits of giving as the word of God has commanded. We have a habit in our house of discussing the offering before we even leave for a service and we allow Holy Spirit to direct us. As ministers we have to teach people how to give, how to seek Holy Spirit for direction in their giving.

If a ministry is hosting a conference or revival, be honest with the people and make them aware of the costs of hosting the event. Tell them their financial support will ensure the event’s success and don’t tie their giving into their breakthrough, next level or deliverance. It is deceitful to do so. If the funds are not there, maybe the event has to be scaled down or that local Body of Believers seeks God for the miraculous.

Holy Spirit is demanding change because judgment is sure to fall.

It is time to bring the worship aspect back to our giving. It’s time to restore a holy reverence to this part of our worship experience.

It is time for ministers to truly teach the people of God what it means to give.

It is time to close down the Church of Hophni and Phinehas once and for all.


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