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Birthdays

May 28th, 2012

Milk and Honey for Some, Gall and Vinegar for Others

It looks like I have made a big mistake. I accused Steve Munsey of pushing a bogus doctrine involving the “seven blessings of Pentecost.” I apparently got a couple of things screwed up.

This particular doctrine may not come from Munsey. I believed it did, because he pushes the notion that we get blessings from cash offerings on Passover, Pentecost, and Yom Kippur. He claims we get seven blessings on Passover and Yom Kippur (which he wrongly thinks is the Feast of Trumpets). But it’s not clear that he pushed seven Pentecost blessings.

There are so many crooks and scoundrels in the charismatic church, it can be very hard to keep them separate in your mind.

David Cerullo claims you will get these jim-dandy blessings if you bribe the Lord on Pentecost:

1. An angel of God will be assigned to protect you and lead you to your miracles.
2. God will be an enemy to your enemies.
3. He will prosper you.
4. God will take sickness away from you.
5. You will not die before your appointed time.
6. Increase and an inheritance will be yours.
7. What the enemy has stolen will be returned to you.

Here are the relevant scriptures, presented in the order of the blessings they supposedly ground. They are all from Exodus 23:

1. Verse 23
2. Verse 22
3. Verse 25
4. Verse 25
5. Verse 26
6. Verses 29 and 31

David Cerullo is not Steve Munsey. Oddly, however, he is offering Munsey’s seven Passover blessings in exchange for Pentecost cash. The above list is identical to Munsey’s Passover fantasies.

Charismatic gold-diggers like to plagiarize moneymaking schemes, so once one of them comes up with a juicy idea, the rest tend to glom onto it. Paula White and Benny Hinn are all over the Munsey stuff. I may have misattributed Cerullo’s seven Pentecost blessings to Munsey, and Cerullo clearly stole them from him in the first place.

My old church is not pushing the seven blessings. I was wrong about that. Here are the five blessings they currently offer:

1. God will break the debt currently hanging over your life – LEVITICUS 25:25-28
2. God will save and restore your whole family together in the Lord – LEVITICUS 25:39-42
3. God will reveal Himself to you in a new way – EXODUS 34:29
4. There will be a redistribution of wealth – LEVITICUS 23:22
5. You will have power over weakness – ACTS 1:8

I’m not completely sure what I should apologize for. Steve Munsey DOES push unscriptural Pentecost offerings, and he couples them with imaginary blessings, but I got the list wrong. I think. I’m not even sure of that, because of the content-grabbing that goes on amongst the jackals.

If anyone can figure out what I did wrong, I will apologize for it. I think that’s fair.

Yesterday was a remarkable day. It was Pentecost, and a friend of mine had a birthday celebration. His wife rigged up a surprise party for him at her mother’s house, and she convinced him she and her friends were actually having a Mary Kay party. As a distraction, he was encouraged to visit the gun range with a bunch of men from church. I was invited to both events.

In the morning, I prayed before church, as always. I spent over half an hour praying in tongues. Ordinarily, God’s power rises up in me when I do this, and by the time I’m done, I don’t need coffee. I feel alert and ready to take on the day. But yesterday I was still a little pooped, and I still had to pray with my understanding and then get up and get ready for church.

I arrived at church late, and worship was over. People were talking about the pastor. He was born on the same day as my friend, and folks were going to the stage to say good things about him. It’s good to honor people, but at that moment, this was not what I needed. I wished I had gotten there sooner.

He got up to give his sermon, but he couldn’t do it. He started the worship up again. He felt that God wanted him to do that. Everything cranked up again, and we fought until we felt God’s presence. It must have taken forty-five minutes.

He called my friend’s wife up to the stage, and he told her it was her day to receive the gift of tongues. He laid hands on her, and a bunch of people prayed, and before long, out it came! I hadn’t realized she needed it. Some people take a while to get it. It was exciting to see her begin her new life. I knew the changes it would make in her life.

After some more moves of the Spirit, the pastor told us there was no time left for the sermon. We would hear it next week. The Holy Spirit had to have his way, and I’m glad he did, because it got me where I wanted to be spiritually (after the problems I had had earlier), and my friend’s wife received a huge blessing. I went up to her and said, “Happy birthday.”

My friend Alonzo rode with me to IHOP for lunch with the other men. I made a real connection with the birthday boy’s brother-in-law. It turns out he’s a bona-fide food nut. Then we drove to the range, and Alonzo and I got to encourage each other and share insights God had given us.

I really didn’t want to go to the party. It was late. But I felt I should drop by, so I made an appearance. As I drove down I-95, the Holy Spirit hit me so hard, I felt like a basketball being pumped up with air. I was overwhelmed, and I wondered what it meant.

When arrived, I was very surprised to see other former Armorbearers from the old church. Two men who had been in leadership positions were there. The birthday boy himself is a former leader of the Armorbearers.

I was so happy to see them; I hadn’t seen one of them in weeks. I thought he had moved to another city. His wife and kids were there. I got reacquainted with his son, who used to work with me in the church kitchen, making pizza.

We ended up gathering around the pastor, telling him all the things we knew about organizing volunteers. We gave him the advice our former pastor had heard and rejected. He was grateful for it. He listened out of eagerness, not out of a desire to let us talk just so we would feel we had gotten a chance to speak. He wasn’t weighing our words to see how he could turn things to his benefit.

I spoke to several people from the old church. We discussed the way talented people had been shoved aside, ignored, obstructed, driven out, and treated disrespectfully. I gave my unvarnished opinion, which was that the old church was really an apparatus intended for the sole purpose of promoting the family that ran it. And I said it was remarkable how they wasted talent in their pursuit of church growth and self-promotion, because had they made good use of the people God had given them, they would have achieved the things they desired. That’s the ironic thing. They had all sorts of capable people waiting to work for them, and they consistently promoted insiders who were incompetent, while keeping able people out of the jobs they were created to do.

We had wonderful food. The sister of the guest of honor is a baker. She is starting her own company. She made a flawless birthday cake decorated like a Green Bay Packers jersey, and she surrounded it with all sorts of related items, like cupcakes and other confections. I couldn’t believe she made it herself. And there was a big buffet of Latin food.

We made plans. We talked about the things we wanted to do. And the pastor was all for it. He was not interested in promoting himself. He was looking to serve the Holy Spirit, using the abilities of all the people around him. He was approachable. He was not dismissive. He had time to talk. We didn’t have to measure our words in order to avoid upsetting him. We knew he would listen. It was as though a dam had broken.

I’m a lawyer, writer, and cook. I have tons of tools. The old church made me a security guard. We had one of the finest flamenco-style guitarists I’ve ever seen. They had him frying chicken wings and playing for little kids. We had a worship leader who went to Ohio State on a vocal scholarship. One day the pastor’s son–a nice guy who needs some professional vocal coaching–said he wanted to get involved in worship, and since then, the other guy has been teaching children. I could go on and on.

That was the attitude at the old place. With the new pastor, there was a different atmosphere. The walls had been broken down. There was opportunity to go forward and get some things done.

When I got home, I thought about the powerful presence of God I had felt, and I wondered what it had meant. Then I realized something. God had shown me a picture of heaven.

In heaven, foolish, hardheaded, selfish, hypocritical, arrogant people will be out of the way. They will not be present. They will not obstruct. They will not steal positions God anointed other people to fill. There will be no corruption and no nepotism. Our leader, Jesus, will be available to talk to us. He will encourage us. He will give us the right jobs. He will give us respect and support. We will succeed in doing the things he created us to do. Frustration will be back on earth, with the stiff-necked, carnal, greedy Christians who would not listen to the Holy Spirit. God will heap terrible obstacles on them, as a reward for the chains they put on his children.

We know that when we arrive in heaven, people we know will be there to greet us, just as my friends were waiting for me at the party. And there will be a feast–the marriage supper of the Lamb–just as there were food and drink at the party.

In heaven, things will work. That’s a succinct way to put it. I believe God used the party to show me what it would be like.

You have to live in this imperfect world, and you will never belong to a perfect organization, but some organizations are under Satan’s control to a very great extent, and you should not hang around hoping to fix them from the inside. Jesus taught us that it was wrong to try. He said we should shake the dust off our feet and move on, taking our blessings with us, just as he will do during the Rapture. He will shake the flesh (dust) off his feet (us) and take us to a place where we will be appreciated and allowed to succeed.

My old church was corrupt. I may as well be honest. They suppressed the Holy Spirit. They talked about helping the poor, but they didn’t do very much. They kissed up to celebrities, rich people, and politicians, while blowing off little people with needs. They taught self-help instead of Holy Spirit transformation. They disrespected and hobbled the servants God sent them. There is a limit to the success a godly person can have in a place like that. I know; Joseph made it in Pharaoh’s court. But he was the exception, not the rule. And after he died, his people were oppressed and murdered until they had to leave.

You may call this gossip, but I disagree. Gossip involves airing out confidences. It involves slander. It is done with malice. It serves no constructive purpose. There is nothing wrong with exposing the public behavior of the people controlling a confused church, especially when they should be aware they’re screwing up. Someone has to speak up. Jesus did it. John the Baptist did it. Jude did it. Don’t make me make a comprehensive list. You can’t accuse me of exposing your dirty laundry when you already have it hanging on your porch.

I thank God for what he showed me yesterday. It motivates me to carry on. Sooner or later, he rewards people. For good, but also, sadly, for evil.

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