Faith Par†ner Payback

By Patricia Backora

“You’ve got just THREE days to cough up my rent, kid!” Greg’s rich and ord !arned" “#an’t you give me a $reak, mister%” Greg p eaded" “God !i give me a &e! e'tra days"” $ ess you i& you

“(hat do ) care a$out God%” the man $ ustered" “)& He rea y oved you, !hy !ou d ) $e standing at your door threatening you !ith eviction on *riday% This !ho e $ui ding $e ongs to me and every$ody here is at my mercy"” “You might o!n this $ui ding, +r" ,hark ey, $ut my *ather o!ns this !ho e !ide !or d" You can’t put me on the street un ess He a o!s it"” “(e’ ,EE i& ) don’t! - ) kno!, kid, is you $etter $e at +Y o&&ice !ith the dough at nine a"m" sharp *riday morning, or you’ $e $umming on the $each pushing a shopping cart"” “+y *ather !i provide,” Greg said" “-&ter a the money )’ve sent to T. preachers, He’s $ound to" They promised me a mirac e harvest"” The and ord smirked" “You’re dum$er than ) thought you !ere, kid" Those guys are ying to you through their teeth" (hy do you think they’re a iving in ocean&ront mansions and driving a +ercedes /en0 !hi e you can’t even make the rent on this grotty dump% This !or d’s not &it &or s!eet suckers ike you" Ho! do you think )’.E made it so &ar in i&e, kid% ) give no mercy and ) ask &or none" You’re iving in # oud 1oo 1oo and" )n the RE-2 !or d you’ve gotta *)GHT &or everything you get, and you either sink or s!im"”

“)t says in the /i$ e, 3(hat good does it do you to gain the !ho e !or d and ose your o!n sou ’, +r" ,hark ey" God is the 4ne (ho et you have a this and He can take it a!ay anytime He !ants"” Greg shuddered" )t !asn’t ike him to stand up to $u ying authority &igures" He !as too nice a #hristian &or that" +r" ,hark ey shoved his &ace into Greg’s" “5o you kno! !ho ) am, you snot6 nosed punk% )’m a mu ti6$i ionaire! The man upstairs can’t do 74TH)7’ to me! ) cou d have sent one o& my agents to !ork you over today" /ut ) !anted to put the &ear o& god in you myse &"” “/ut you -RE7’T God, +r" ,hark ey"” +r" ,hark ey ooked do!nright !ounded" “4ne more peep out o& you, kid, and you’ $e sucking your $reak&ast through your nose" +ake me any madder and )’ thro! you out no!! ) don’t care ho! you get it, *riday morning’s the dead ine or you’re 48T!” Greg didn’t even say “God $ ess you, sir” as the $i ionaire and ord sta ked a!ay to his ne't victim" Greg shut the door, dre! the sha$$y curtains and started pacing the & oor" 34h, 24R5!” he cried" “5id you see ho! mean he !as to me, and !hat he said a$out You% (hen ()22 You make good on the T. preacher’s promise to mu tip y $ack a that money ) sent% ) sent it in &aith, 2ord, my RE7T money, and ) just ost my jo$ at /urger 5e ite! )& You don’t mu tip y it $ack, ) don’t kno! (H-T !i happen to me! ” Greg !as out ooking &or a jo$ the ne't day !hen he &ound +r" ,hark ey s umped on a park $ench" Greg greeted him on y to $e to d to mind his o!n $usiness" “/ut +r" ,hark ey, )’ve just put in my app ication at +c5ona d’s and they said they’d ca me $ack to et me kno! i& ) can !ork part time" ) might $e a$ e to $orro! the rent o&& my unc e ti ne't month" #ou d you !ait ti ne't +onday, may$e%” “Get ost kid, your rent’s nothing to do !ith me anymore"” The &or orn and ord pu ed his e'pensive -rmani $usiness suit c oser a$out his shivering &rame" ,uch icy !eather !as unusua &or this area" “(hat are you doing, sitting out here in the park, +r" ,hark ey% sno!ing" You shou d go home"” “-in’t got one no more, kid"” The and ord ooked ike he cou d cry" “(ho% Y48%” (hy you said you o!ned t!o city $ ocks o& apartments"” “Yeah, ) did kid, ti ) $ e! it a at the race track" ) $et a $i ion on * ying * ea$ag $ecause my pa /ugsy to d me the other horses got doped up $y one o& our stooges and ) just cou dn’t ose" (e , it seems ike that dirty rat dou$ e6crossed me! He !as a secret agent &or the $ookies and he 2)E5 to me so )’d ose everything and he cou d co ect his cut! )t !as either sign a my properties over to pay my gam$ ing de$ts or )’d $e &ound & oating in the river the ne't day" /oo hoo hoo! The syndicate sei0ed a my $eauti&u mansions and properties" They even took my !i&e a!ay! - ) got e&t is the c othes on my $ack and my ce phone, !hich is a ready running out o& juice" ) don’t even o!n a tent! )& my $odyguard /ee&y don’t phone me $ack and say ) can stay !ith him, )’ have to 2ook, it’s

go stay at that home ess & ophouse on 7inth ,t", and every$ody’s gonna augh at me!” Greg patted him on the shou der" “+r" ,hark ey, 9esus can he p you:” +r" ,hark ey shoved Greg a!ay" “5on’t you 5-RE te me that junk! )& there (-, a god, he !ou dn’t have et that happen to me! - ) did !as try to $e a tri ionaire, and He et me do!n! Get out o& my sight!” “/ut +r" ,hark ey, !ou d you at east take my jacket i& you’re gonna stay out here% )t’s !armer than yours"” -&ter +r" ,hark ey hur ed unprinta$ e insu ts at him, Greg got the message and sp it" He stopped to te a po iceman that someone shou d $ring +r" ,hark ey out o& the co d $e&ore he &ro0e to death" The cop nodded !ith a deadpan &ace and promised to take rea good care o& him" Greg !as gone $ut the pudgy cop just stood !here he !as, munching on his doughnut, !eighing his options" -&ter a the he that man had put him and his &ami y through:" 7e't evening !as (ednesday night service, a specia ,haring 7ight" Greg !ent up &ront to testi&y" “)t !as on the ne!s,” he choked" “+y and ord, +r" ,hark ey, !as &ound dead this morning on a park $ench" He must have $een too proud to go to the home ess she ter a&ter he ost a his money at the race track" ) tried to !itness to +r" ,hark ey !hen he came &or the rent, $ut a he did !as curse my &aith and threaten to thro! me out o& my apartment"” ,ome saints mum$ ed their sympathy, $ut others !hispered that it served that o d devi right &or $eing such a mean repro$ate" “) &ee rea $ad a$out it,” Greg continued" “) !ish )’d hung around to !itness some more to him, $ut )’ve $een so !rapped up in my o!n trou$ es" )’ve $een !orried, uh, ) mean concerned, a$out my rent $eing due on *riday morning" Everyone p ease pray &or me that )’ get my mirac e $y *riday"” “-men,” the pastor said" “,imon ,hark ey, $i ionaire rea tor, ies si ent in the grave, and his tongue $ asphemes no more" 2et his tragic i&e and death $e a !arning to a !ho !ou d dare to cross the ministry o& this church" /rother Greg has kept current !ith his tithes" - so, Greg has &aith&u y so!n seed in /rother 9u$a *i $ert’s T. ministry" ,on, you can rest assured o& our prayers" /e o& good cheer" E;<E#T - +)R-#2E! Tonight !e’ $e joining /rother *i $ert’s service ive through the mirac e o& )nteractive )nternet"” Head hung o!, Greg s umped do!n in his seat, hard y daring to ook at anyone" Greg !ondered i& he even $e onged here, in this $ig rich church that attracted $ig cro!ds o& &anci y6dressed strangers you kne! !ou d never =uite $e your &riends" Their stony si ence and icy stares said it a " ,ome ya!ned or coughed" 7o$ody rea y cared" Then he &e t a ight touch on his arm" ,trange" Hard y any$ody ever sat near him, even i& the church !as &i ing up" Greg had never seen this e der y ady $e&ore" - tiny !isp o& a !oman !ith stee gray hair, !earing a simp e $ ue dress" ,he ooked o d enough to $e Greg’s grandmother" /ut her cheeks !ere rosy and her smi e !as $right and she had the !armest, s!eetest smi e" 8n ike Greg’s party anima mom, !ho !as divorced and had run o&& !ith her ne! man, hard y ever $othering to ca or even !rite"

“Greg,” she said, “a&ter the service, )’d ike you to join me &or a cup o& co&&ee" /etter yet, !hy don’t you just eave !ith me no!%” “+ight as !e ,” Greg sighed" “) just em$arrassed myse & in &ront o& the !ho e church"” He picked up his /i$ e and s o! y made his !ay to the $ack, &ee ing a eyes g ued to his $ack" “You kno! you rea y don’t $e ong here,” the ady said !hen they !ere outside" “This p ace is ike a mauso eum"” “-men to that,” Greg agreed" /ig !et sno!& akes hit him in the &ace" He pu ed his scar& tighter around his chin" Greg apo ogi0ed that he had no car to drive the kind ady some!here, he’d had to se it to make a rent payment" He’d had to !a k to church in this a!&u !eather $ecause no$ody cou d come pick him up" “That’s okay, Greg,” she said, “there’s a $us coming right no!" )’ pay the &are &or us $oth"” They trave ed just a short distance do!n the tree6 ined $ou evard" " The !oman seemed to kno! !here she !anted to go, and to d Greg it !as time to get o&&" They !a ked do!n a pictures=ue side street and turned the corner" ,oon they !ere sett ed in a co0y seaside diner" Greg !as surprised !hen his ne! &riend asked &or the menu" “/ut !e !ere on y having co&&ee,” Greg said" “That’s a ) can a&&ord:” “/ut ) !as going to treat you, Greg" 4rder anything you ike" ) kno! you must $e starving"” “,ure am, ma’am" - )’ve had to eat this !eek is $eans on toast, and )’ve even run out o& that"” His thin &ace managed a !eak smi e" The ome ette, sausage and hash$ro!ns tasted heaven y to cash6strapped Greg" “The 2ord !i sure y $ ess you &or this, ma’am,” he mum$ ed $et!een mouth&u s" “He a ready has, Greg, and my name’s Rita"” ,he he d out a thin, $ ue6veined hand" He shook it and asked her !here she !as &rom, said he’d never seen her around church $e&ore" Her eyes darted" “) spent some time do!n in *risco doing the 2ord’s !ork, $ut &e t ed to come &urther up the coast and see i& ) cou d $e o& some service" Go on no!, Greg, eat up and you’ &ee ike a ne! man"” “/ut aren’t you having anything, Rita%” “4h, ) had something ear ier" This hot choco ate is nice"” *or severa minutes they discussed Greg’s i&e as a co ege student !ho hai ed &rom 4ak and" Greg !as thank&u &or his hard6!on scho arship !hich meant he cou d >usua y? get $y !orking just part time" Greg’s $est $uddy Ha , !ho’d shared his apartment, had just moved out, “jumped ship” as Greg ca ed it, $e&ore the ne't rent payment !as due, eaving him in a $ig $ind" Rita nodded, as i& she’d heard such sad ta es $e&ore"

Rita conso ed Greg over his unhappy home i&e and to d him to trust in his oving Heaven y *ather, (ho !ou d neither &ai nor &orsake him" Then she touched his hand" “Greg, ) didn’t $ring you here to interrogate you, $ut is it a right i& !e discuss something%” “,ure, go ahead"” “Greg, a ot o& good #hristian &o ks have gotten mi'ed up in this devi ish <rosperity 5octrine" )t promises them unto d riches $ut a !ays eads to eterna ruin" -nd one $ig pro$ em is so6ca ed te evision ministries pedd ing ies in the name o& the 2ord"” Greg a most choked on his sausage" “What ies%” “That you can /8Y God’s &avors in e'change &or co d, hard, cash" -s i& 9esus’ sacri&ice o& Himse & on #a vary !asn’t enough to move God’s heart to ans!er your prayers and de iver you &rom evi "” “)& you’re ta king a$out /rother *i $ert,” Greg said de&ensive y, “you’re !rong" He’s the hum$ est prayer !arrior a ive"” Rita aughed" “Hum$ e% ) have $een to d he !ears go d and diamond rings, $ut has the je!e ry air$rushed out o& his pictures so his so6ca ed &aith partners can’t see them" He drives e'pensive cars and he o!ns T(4 huge mansions" His 3ministry’ earns him @AB,BBB,BBB a year" (hat kind o& humi ity is that%” “/ut he must $e $roke!” Greg said" “9ust recent y /rother *i $ert said he sa! a CB,BBB6&oot high 9esus (ho ordered him to $ui d an )nner Hea ing #enter out in the desert, and to raise @DB,BBB,BBB &or it &rom his *aith <artners" )& /rother *i $ert doesn’t come up !ith it $y the end o& *e$ruary, he’s a dead duck!” Rita’s eyes t!ink ed" “That 39esus’ sounds an a!&u ot ike your &ormer and ord" He threatened to put you out on the street i& you didn’t cough up the cash $y *riday, and this imposter 39esus’ threatened to $ump o&& /rother *i $ert i& he didn’t do the same! )t’s easy &or these con artists to ie, and even i& he 5)5 see and hear such things, E #or"CCFCG states that satan can mas=uerade as an ange o& ight" The RE-2 9esus said, 3+y yoke is easy and +y $urden is ight"’ 9esus isn’t a gangster, Greg" He’s a oving ,avior (ho 7E.ER 47#E took up a co ection at His hea ing meetings" 9esus commissioned His discip es to go into a the !or d to make 5),#)<2E,, not make money!” “/ut Rita, this is a di&&erent !or d than 9esus ived in" )t takes money to run a church"” “Greg, it ), a di&&erent !or d &rom the one 9esus !a ked E,BBB years ago" )t’s on y gotten (4R,E! -nd as &or 3running a church’ that concept is a$sent &rom ,cripture" The true 7e! Testament #hurch is a iving 4RG-7),+, not a cash6 generating organi0ation" The church is God’s peop e, not some &ancy, high6 maintenance $ui ding" )& 9esus doesn’t ru e the church, men !i sure y try to run it, and R8)7 it! /ui dings are !hite e ephants $reaking the $acks o& God’s peop e"” “) kno! !hat you mean, Rita, it’s sure $roken my $ack" a&&ord modern6day church anymore"” ) don’t kno! i& ) can

,he reached in her purse" “Greg, soon )’ have to eave, $ecause someone e se needs me" Here, )’ve !ritten a &e! scriptures to he p you" -nother topic covered

$y these scriptures is monetary tithing" )t’s a &a se, dead y doctrine o& men !hich didn’t take ho d o& the church ti ong a&ter the death o& the ear y apost es" These scriptures <R4.E &rom God’s o!n (ord that the 472Y tithes God ever re=uired !ere &rom the #H)25RE7 4* ),R-E2, and that they consisted 472Y o& agricu tura produce taken &rom the 2and o& )srae " 8n ess you !ere a &armer or herdsman in ancient )srae , you didn’t have to pay any tithes"” Greg shoved the paper in his pocket, $ut he sti had $ondages in his i&e" He said, “,o you $rought me here, Rita, to try to ure me a!ay &rom the sacred truths )’ve $een taught &rom the pu pit" (ho am ), and !ho are you, to reject time6honored doctrines% )’m just a common $urger6& ipper and ) don’t even kno! !hat you are, e'cept you tried to so&ten me up !ith a &ree mea "” ,he ooked hurt" “Greg, in your heart you 174( that’s not true! You -RE7’T common! The Ho y Ghost d!e s in your heart $y &aith, and you’re a son o& - mighty God" -cts CBFCG teaches you 74T to ca any man, inc uding yourse &, common or unc ean! God is very angry !ith preachers !ho teach peop e to p ay Him ike a 2as .egas s ot machine! (hen you do, you -2(-Y, 24,E! Your and ord gam$ ed everything he had and ost his o!n sou ” “/ecause he de&ied God, that’s !hy my and ord died" “) heard a$out ,eed *aith &rom a pu pit so it must $e true! God is /4875 to repay me &or a the o&&erings ) mai ed in to him"” “That’s my argument in a nutshe ,” Rita rep ied" *a se prophets teach 3G45 ), /4875 $y !hat ) do"’ /ut !hat man can $ind - mighty God%” “/ut hasn’t God $ound H)+,E2* to a$ide $y His o!n (ord%” Greg argued" “Yes, God ()22 &u &i His (ord, Greg, $ut He !on’t &u &i promises made in His name $y !icked preachers !ho t!ist !hat He rea y says and make the /i$ e say !hat it doesn’t" ,cripture !arns against anyone adding to or taking a!ay &rom God’s (ord" <reachers the !or d over do that every ,unday as they co ect unscriptura money tithes &rom God’s peop e" -nd $y the !ay, +a achi chapter H is directed to!ard 9E(, !ho ived $e&ore the #ross, not modern6day $e ievers in #hrist" )& you’ read the (H42E chapter care&u y, !hich most preachers don’t $other to do $ecause it !ou d cost them money, you’ &ind that God is speaking primari y to the sons o& 2evi and to the -aronic priesthood"” Greg &e t his insides churning" “/ut ) gave money out o& +Y pocket! +oney ) cou d have eaten a decent mea !ith! (on’t God give me my CBB6&o d return any!ay, just to $e nice a$out it%” “God doesn’t honor a ie, Greg" He doesn’t endorse &a se doctrine $y re!arding those !ho ive $y it" He must $e true to Himse & and to His o!n precious (ord" 7ot as men t!ist and manipu ate and add to it, $ut as it stands !ritten and &aith&u y preserved in heaven" (ho is itt e, !ormy mankind to dictate to God, #reator and 8pho der o& the 8niverse, that He +8,T make you as rich as 1ing ,o omon just $ecause you he ped provide a ne! +ercedes &or some greedy preacher%” “/ut ):” “Greg, ans!er me this and $e truth&u F Has God $ essed you either spiritua y or materia y &or tithing your paychecks%” Rita’s eyes searched his" He s!a o!ed hard" “God &orgive me, $ut ) can’t ie" 7o"”

“7o!, Greg, i& God !ere to re!ard the keeping o& a &a se manmade re igious a!, !hat !ou d that say a$out His o!n integrity%” “) guess it !ou d mean God changes !ith the times ike !e do, and He doesn’t think it’s such a $ig dea to change !hat His (ord says and you can make up your o!n code o& ethics as you go a ong, and it doesn’t rea y matter i& you take the /i$ e itera y" )t !ou d mean a God rea y cares a$out is !hether you’re sincere y doing !hat you $e ieve is right"” “E'act y" You can $e sincere y !rong and sti pay the price &or making a $ad decision" There !as a time in )srae !hen every man did !hat !as right in his o!n eyes" 5uring those dark days )srae ost !ar a&ter !ar and ived in &ear o& her heathen neigh$ors" Haven’t you &e t ike everything you do goes !rong and you’re a !ays a&raid o& guys !ho have money%” “Yes, Rita, you cou d say that"” Greg ni$$ ed on his toast" “7o! ho! does this s=uare !ith the preachers’ promise that God !i your contri$utions $ack to you%” mu tip y

“(e , they 54 say that i& it doesn’t !ork, it’s $ecause !e’ve got no &aith, and the on y remedy is to keep on so!ing and $e ieving!” Rita aughed scorn&u y" “(hat a copout! The preacher just can’t ose either !ay" He’s got a his $ases covered" Random pro$a$i ity says that once in a!hi e things !i go your !ay, and !hen i&e is good, the preacher c aims the credit" /ut !hen things on y go &rom $ad to !orse, and the $ottom &a s out o& your i&e, the preacher !on’t take the $ ame &or $ad teaching" 4h, no, it’s a !ays Y48R &au t &or not having enough &aith! <reachers teach that 9esus isn’t enough to persuade God to he p you" They deny that 9esus paid it a on the #ross" )nstead they teach, 3+oney p us &aith >or positive thinking? p us 9esus just might get you your mirac e" -nd !hen it doesn’t you either &ai ed to pay enough or 3&aith’ enough! -nd as &or 3keep on so!ing any!ay’ , that’s ike thro!ing your paycheck in a pond!” “/ut !hat a$out the $ essings God promised &or putting Him &irst, don’t ) sti get them%” “-re you under 2a! or under grace, Greg%” “8nder grace, or at east that’s !hat )’ve $een taught"” “)& you’ read 2eviticus EI, verses HB to HG you’ discover that tithing !as given as a a! 472Y to the chi dren o& )srae , /Y +4,E, *R4+ +T" ,)7-)" )t !as 7E.ER given to the church" ,ometimes preachers !i =uote +atthe! EHFEH !here #hrist okays the tithes paid $y the <harisee &rom his her$ garden" /ut remem$er, Greg, at that time #hrist hadn’t yet gone to #a vary to die &or your sins and usher in the 7e! #ovenant" #hrist’s earth y ministry took p ace in the c osing days o& the 4 d Testament" The o d +osaic a!s and ritua s !ere sti $inding" 2ike that time #hrist to d a hea ed eper to go sho! himse & to the priest and o&&er up the anima sacri&ice re=uired $y +oses" You !ou dn’t do that anymore, !ou d you Greg%” “7o, Rita"” He shook his head and took another sip &rom his cup"

“Greg, one trick preachers pu on God’s peop e is they argue that tithing preceded the +osaic 2a!" ,o !hy don’t they &orce peop e to o$serve anima sacri&ices and circumcision i& they !ant to $e consistent% These things a so preceded the +osaic 2a!"” “,ounds ogica enough,” Greg said" $eing under grace or under a!%” “/ut !hat does this have to do !ith me

“)’m g ad you asked that, Greg" Ga atians HFCB !arns that i& you put yourse & $ack under the 2a! you come under a curse" The curse &or $reaking any part o& God’s 2a! is terri$ e" Read 5euteronomy EJ i& you !ant to kno! ho! $ad it !as" Humi iation and &ai ure, oss o& your hea th and possessions, perpetua &ai ure, menta pro$ ems, a !ays $eing oppressed in your i&e and $ound $y the enemy" Haven’t you &e t that !ay, Greg%” “You $et ) have" /ut ho! have ) $roken the tithing a! $y keeping it, even i& ) !asn’t supposed to%” “<reachers teach you to come under a a! #hrist died to set you &ree &rom, and then they teach you to tithe in a !ay !hich goes against God’s (ord" )& you’ read those ,criptures ) gave you, you’ discover that the tithe consisted 472Y o& agricu tura products, 7E.ER money" Tithes !ere co ected 472Y to &eed the hungry and to consume at )srae ’s &estiva s, not to make rich preachers richer" Greg, does your pastor a o! you to $uy $oo0e !ith your tithe%” “(H-T!” Greg gasped" “5id ) hear you right% /44KE%” “That’s right, Greg" <reachers sei0e on the ten per cent &igure $ecause they &igure it’s just enough to keep /ig Re igion going, $ut not so much that it causes a mass re$e ion in the pe!s" /ut preachers skim over any tithing passages !hich don’t support their vie!" 4n y i& tithed produce had to $e hau ed a ong !ay !as the tithe ever converted to cash, and even then that money !as to $e used 472Y to $uy more &ood products at the )srae ites’ p ace o& !orship" +oney itse & !as 7E.ER accepted as the 2ord’s tithe" <reachers !ho ove money don’t ike 5euteronomy CGFEA" Here God commands tithers to spend such tithe money on anything they !ant to eat at the )srae ites’ annua &estiva s" G45 even suggests they $uy !ine and strong drink! Ho! many times have you heard your pastor preach on that tithing passage in 5euteronomy CG% “7ot once, Rita" (o!!” “7ot on y that" The !ho e purpose o& the tithe !as to &eed the hungry" <eriod" That inc uded poor !ido!s and orphans, poor &oreigners and the priest y tri$e o& 2evi, !hich !asn’t given a share o& rea estate in the <romised 2and !here they cou d have raised their o!n crops and ivestock to &eed their &ami ies" <reachers !ere actua y c assed among the poor $ack then, $e ieve it or not" ,o i& your pastor doesn’t a o! you to $uy $eer !ith part o& your tithe money and doesn’t use it to &eed the hungry and instead uses the tithe to construct church $ui dings !ith, then !ho is $reaking God’s a!, as stated in ,cripture%” “) guess he is,” Greg muttered" “Greg, did you kno! that every seventh year the peop e !ere &or$idden to p o! and so! or reap their &ie ds% That !as a year o& RE,T" 7o tithes cou d $e taken &rom uncu tivated &ie ds in the seventh year" 5oes your pastor &or$id his peop e to go to !ork every seventh year, or give them a $reak &rom tithing%”

“7ot that ) kno! o&,” Greg admitted" “,o !ho’s sinning and diso$eying God’s /i$ ica instructions%” “The pastor"” “-nd you too, &or o$serving this &a se teaching, contrary to the (ord o& God" God can’t $ ess heresy, or manmade additions to His !ritten (ord" )mper&ect a!6 keeping is just as $ad in God’s sight as &ai ure to keep the !ho e 2a!" 7o! do you sti !ant to $e under the 2a! and its curse%” Greg shook his head" “Rita, ) just can’t $e ieve )’ve $een ied to a (hat a$out the -8TH4R)TY $ehind the pastor’s pu pit%” this time"

“-nother ie o& the devi " <u pits didn’t appear in church $ui dings ti EDB -"5", ong a&ter the death o& the -post es" /y +artin 2uther’s time the pu pit dominated the church" -ctua y the pu pit evo ved &rom an ear ier piece o& &urniture $orro!ed &rom the speaker’s podium in the 9e!ish synagogue" /ut the ear iest church met in private homes and re ated together as $rothers and sisters in the 2ord, !ith no c ergy6 aity distinction among the mem$ers" That heresy snuck into the church ater" There ), no divine authority invested in that !ooden pu pit" #hrist gave authority over a the po!er o& the enemy to individua $e ievers, not just to a se ect &e!" +any so6ca ed men o& God have used their position up &ront to contro others, and to usurp the Ho y ,pirit’s jo$ o& guiding God’s peop e into a truth" The !ord 3pu pit’ does not appear any!here in ,cripture" <au and 9esus $e&ore him ministered to peop e )7 THE)R +)5,T, not $ehind a ta pu pit" <reachers may need a simp e ectern to ho d their notes, $ut preachers !ho ascri$e divine virtue to a pu pit commit ido atry"” “Rita, !here did you get a this in&o%” Greg !ondered" “Greg, )’ve $een around the $ ock and earned a &e! things in my time" 5on’t just take my !ord &or it" 9ust prayer&u y study a those ,criptures ) gave you"” “,ti , /rother *i $ert’s $een around onger than )’ve $een $orn"” “2isten, Greg,” Rita p eaded, “you’ve $een $am$oo0 ed ong enough" “-ge doesn’t make you !iser, it on y makes you an o der &oo " )n the days o& ,amue , E i the High <riest o& )srae !as e'ecuted $y God Himse & &or a o!ing his o!n sons to desecrate the o&&ering o& the 2ord" ,amue !as just a itt e chi d at the time and God T425 him that E i !as into apostasy and as a resu t, his !ho e &ami y !ou d $e &ired &rom the priesthood" There are count ess men ike E i today !ho ie and deceive to ro$ God’s peop e and make Him angry" This /rother *i $ert your church !orships is in danger o& eterna he &ire &or pro&aning the o&&ering o& the 2ord and 5E2)/ER-TE2Y making merchandise o& the & ock purchased $y the precious $ ood o& #hrist" (hat a terri$ e paycheck re igious con artists !i receive on the 5ay o& 9udgment" Ta k a$out $eing paid $ack &or your deeds" Greg, i& anything, you ought to RE<E7T &or going against the Ho y ,pirit’s gent e !arnings and istening to these iars" You simp y don’t (-7T to share in the same re!ard as these snakes, thieves and crooks"” “That scares me, Rita,” Greg said, as the truth da!ned upon his &ormer y $ inded spiritua eyes" “/ut sure y ,4+E o& those preachers must have kno!n #hrist at some point in their ives"” “8ndou$ted y some o& them 5)5 &ormer y con&ess #hrist as ,avior, Greg" /ut the -post e <eter !arns against the dog returning to his o!n vomit and the so! going

$ack to the pig pen" )& they ever kne! #hrist at a , they’ve $etrayed Him even !orse than 9udas did" -t east 9udas didn’t make converts a&ter he $etrayed 9esus" These s ick iars are making discip es !ho are t!ice the sons o& he as themse ves" 9esus said that !hoever makes a itt e chi d to stum$ e !ou d $e $etter o&& i& a mi stone !ere tied around his neck and he !as dro!ned in the depths o& the sea" 7e! converts are itt e chi dren in God’s 1ingdom" The re igious char atan !ho teaches them doctrines o& devi s to pro&iteer o&& them !i reap a $itter re!ard" “-nd Greg, speaking o& $eing a 3*aith <artner’ in /rother *i $ert’s ministry" )sn’t a partner supposed to $e an EL8-2 re ationship% (henever HE !ants something, /rother *i $ert doesn’t hesitate to hit you up &or cash" 5o you think you’d get any!here near this guy i& you tried to get him to he p pay *riday’s rent% /e&ore you ans!er, one o& the scriptures ) assigned you !as E #orinthians JFCH6CD" )n this passage <au says it isn’t his !i that some $e $urdened !hi e others ive an easy i&e o&& contri$utions" God’s !i is EL8-2)TY in the /ody o& #hrist, $ut you hard y see that !ith so many #hristians strugg ing to pay their $i s !hi e your rich *aith <artners ive in u'ury"” “You’ve convinced me no!, Rita, thanks"” Greg sighed" “) can’t argue !ith p ain y !ritten ,cripture, and ) !i read a those you !rote out !hen ) get home"” “Greg, i& God $ esses you $e&ore you go to $ed tonight, consider it a G)*T &rom God, not a re!ard &or your donations to /rother *i $ert" Take it rather as a token o& His mercy" 3/ye no!"” The !aitress came and dropped o&& the $i " Rita pressed a &ive6do ar $i in his hand to pay his $us &are home" (hi e Greg stared !ondering y at it, speech ess, she e&t a sma tip and sprang up to go pay at the register" Greg tried to &o o! her $ut she just smi ed" “Hey, !ait!” Greg ca ed" - sma $e&ore he cou d reach her" &ami y got in his !ay and s o!ed him do!n

(ith a ight step Rita =uickened her pace and !a ked so &ast across the parking ot that Greg shouted !arnings a$out oncoming cars" She moves so fast surely she can’t be all that old, Greg thought" He kept &o o!ing her" ,he &aded a!ay in the dense, dri00 y mist !hich $ e! in &rom the $each" Greg kept ca ing her name $ut no one ans!ered" - Greg heard !as the $arking o& sea ions in the sur&" Greg cou d hard y !ait to get home so he cou d read his /i$ e" He caught the $us to his di apidated studio apartment" He &um$ ed &or his key" “4h no,” he mum$ ed" “) must have e&t it on the couch !hen ) used my phone"” Then he remem$ered" I’ve got a spare :" Greg reached under his doormat and !as start ed to &ind a !hite enve ope marked simp y “&rom a &riend"” (hen Greg opened it he near y &ainted" “Ha e ujah!” he cried" “This’ pay my rent -75 get me some &ood! (onder !ho it’s &rom% Thank You, 9E,8,!” The ne't day Greg anded a jo$ at the supermarket !hich paid much more than /urger 5e ite" /e&ore ong he &ound a nice room near the university, !hich cut do!n on $us &are" Greg reso ved that &rom no! on on y G45 !ou d $e his guide and 9esus his 472Y (ay to God’s &avor"

“He’s the on y <artner ) need to meet my needs,” Greg sang to himse &" 9esus has already paid &or my $ essings"” MMMMM httpFNN$anpreachergreed"tripod"com httpFNNkingdomage"tripod"com

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