Saturday, July 19, 2008

a stuffed saturday mouth or preaching what about the canaanites?

You know the feeling.

It looks attractive. So you take a bite. A big bite actually. Bigger than was necessary. And now you’re stuck chewing.

Not enough mouth space. Needing water but no room to drink. Swallow too quickly and you’re digesting unprocessed lumps sure to give you cramps.

That’s me. Last Sunday was the first crack at a 6 week series on Deuteronomy. A book about change, about how the people of God respond to change, how they refuse to stay desert bound, but commit to explore new practices in a new place. Great series for a church in change in a changing world.

Gleefully I had announced the series. That would include “What about the Canaanites? How can a God of love kill the Canaanites?”

Why? Yes I know it’s an important question. Yes I know it’s a question all thinking and caring Christians need to face. But really, why did I need to take that bite. I’m still chewing. It’s Saturday. And Sunday’s acoming.

Updated: I think it came together well. Some good feedback. Good interest in the extra handouts I prepared on reading the “law” and ‘what about the Canaanites. The question I am left with is: should I even be preaching this stuff. Joyce Meyer’s in town and is “so inspirational.” And here I am, preaching hard texts from the Old Testament. What the heck should we be doing from our pulpits?

Posted by steve at 03:53 PM


  1. So, how did it go?

    Comment by mark — July 20, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  2. Excellent (from one who was there)

    Comment by Anonymous — July 21, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  3. And even legitmate blogging becomes simple procrastination sometimes! It’s tough Steve but all over now 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth — July 21, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  4. no Elizabeth. your comment is not a fair representation.

    the post was a cut and paste from the sermon conclusion and written before i moved off to 2 consecutive pastoral engagements. that is part of the stuffed feeling – the pastoral expectations that don’t diminish despite my being part-time, and simply leave less and less time to reflect/process/digest.

    happy for humour, but not when they distort reality 🙂


    Comment by steve — July 21, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

  5. Did I need to be more specific? Steve, how did it go and what were your conclusions?

    Comment by mark — July 23, 2008 @ 7:13 pm

  6. sorry mark, juggling lotsa other things. i’ll send you a copy.


    Comment by steve — July 23, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  7. Keep it up! We are a diverse mix of people and need “meat” as well as “milk.”

    Comment by Jaybee — July 24, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  8. I don’t think that inspirational is synonymous with milk, nor do I think meat and inspirational are mutually exclusive.
    I wouldn’t make an assumption that what Joyce Meyers teaches is milk.

    Comment by Aaron — July 24, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

  9. Hi Aaron

    You’re reading something into my words that wasn’t there.

    Comment by Jaybee — July 24, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  10. she sure makes a lot of $ out of it, whether it’s milk, meat or prosperity doctrine 🙂


    Comment by steve — July 24, 2008 @ 5:38 pm

  11. Do you really know how much Joyce Meyer personally makes from speaking? This link

    Reveals all the financial accountibilty checks her organisation goes through. Of particular note,

    “Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. issues an annual attestation letter provided by an independent public accounting firm that attests to the compensation of our president and founder Joyce Meyer.”

    As you said above Steve “happy for humour, but not when they distort reality :)”

    Comment by Aaron More — July 24, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

  12. Sorry I realise my last post is really taking this seriously off topic.
    Well done Steve for be willing to tackle “the hard questions” found in scripture! I think many in the Church fail to see the difference between the responsibility for teaching that a local Church Pastor has and the calling of an itinerant minister. This misunderstanding of roles can often lead to unfair comparisons.
    Anyway sorry again for the off topic banter!

    Comment by Aaron More — July 24, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

  13. Thanks Aaron. re comment # 11. Just cos someone’s accounts are audited does not make them exempt questions being raised about how much a servant of God really needs to earn in order to live. When I get to heaven, and God asks me how I fed the poor, and lived simply, a letter from my lawyer and accountant won’t cut it.

    re comment # 12. Exactly. What I found hard as a regular minister is when I get compared to the itinerant.


    Comment by steve — July 24, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

  14. I was not trying to suggest that we base our standards upon accountants and not the Word of God. More trying to point out Joyce Meyer appeared to have good checks in place which would mean unless I had 100% evidence of what she is getting paid then I am not willing to pass judgement on her. As you said one day she will be held to account and what the accountant or you or I think will not matter then.

    I completely agree that servants of God should have limited salary(I have lived this belief in the flesh!!!).I think these are important issues to be discussed but unless we are certain that someone is being paid an over the top salary then we are better off disucssing the general topic of remuneration rather then targetting individuals. The high profile speaker is often an easy target.

    I know you are busy but if you have time to reply I would be interested in what your thoughts are on Christian authors? It appears many of the big name preachers no longer take very much salary from their churches or ministries becuase they sell so much Christian resource. Some Christian Authors make literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties? Do you think it is fine for them to earn this much but with it comes a great responsibility to use it in the correct manner. Or is it wrong to profit heavily from the revelation God has given (I know writing a book takes a lot more then just revelation but I am talking in very general terms) even if you put it too good use? And if it is wrong how would a successful author deal with this in the current climate of the way book deals and stuff work? Off topic I know but it is actually something I have been pondering lately.

    Comment by Aaron — July 25, 2008 @ 12:36 am

  15. Aaron, quick response as i really should be working on a sermon
    – very few books make money (trust me, i’ve written one and I know!)
    – so your conundrum – what to do with books that make $, is a very rare problem
    – the book is more likely to sell if the author is a celebrity. And that IMHO is what the Christian church is now heavily into – we are in danger of becoming an industry that creates celebrities.
    – so Joyce meyer is smart – she links books, with speaking with TV – creating a celebrity brand. that’s her talent and it does inspire some people.
    – so who should get the $ from her “brand”. the author? the church? or the poor?
    – personally, i think that she should live on a standard pastors allowance. all mainline denominations have them and they are set by a central group taking account of inflation etc. She should create a trust, on which the majority of the Board are from poor countries. The trust should pay her the standard pastors allowance and give the rest away. (at this point i deleted a rant about wealthy church ministers).

    Surely that’s more like the way of Jesus, the Son of man who had nowhere to lay his head.

    It has been interesting to talk with my non-christian friends who have watched the Brian Tamaki video. They are simply disgusted by his lifestyle and find the prosperity doctrine sickening in light of poverty. It does so much damage to their willingness to engage with God/Jesus/church. So there are important missionary issues at work here. These people are making it hard to win people into the Kingdom, simply by how they live. Why can’t they preach and live simply? Why do they have to, by their lifestyles, place a stumbling block in the way of “little ones.”


    Comment by steve — July 26, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

  16. Aaron, i overlooked your 1st couple paragraphs we needing evidence and not making easy targets of high profile speakers. Try googling “Joyce Meyer $23000 toilet”.


    Comment by steve — July 26, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  17. Here we are again making harsh judgements about people we have not met and believing that what you see on the media is true. I think we all know that the media twist everything to make it look more sensational or worse than what it really is.
    Brian Tamaki for all the errors you can see in what he teaches and lives is still responsible for introducing an awful lot of lost people to Jesus. These people that he meets and interacts with on a daily basis have had their lives turned around since meeting Jesus. Yet you feel that he makes it hard to win people into the Kingdom because of his lifestyle. How many people have you met who say that the reason they don’t attend church or believe is because of Joyce Meyer or Brian Tamaki? By the way I didn’t go and hear Joyce but I also pick holes in her either. This is one of the biggest problems in Christidom at present – pulling others to shreads – why do we do it especially when people in positions of authority like you are condemning the work of others – not a good look!

    Also as far a putting stumbling blocks in the way of little ones I have met more non-Christians who are confused and alarmed by the fact that so many Christians are such heavy and regular drinkers than they are by people like the celebrity Christians. Celebrity is sometimes not so much about what you want and more about what others make of you. Authors write what they feel led to write and whether they become celebrities or not is dependant on how many others write about them on the internet and profile their material and buy their books. I have read an article about a top worship song writer who said that he wrote some music for his own church and then other churches used it and all of a sudden he was at conferences where people started treating him differently because he had written some music which was being used so widely. Is this his fault?

    Comment by Karen — July 26, 2008 @ 8:46 pm

  18. Must say though that I am pleased that you choose to speak from the Old Testament as it is often overlooked in this postmodern era as it is harder to understand and sometimes to stomach – mind you some of Paul’s writing is extremely challenging to our current lifestyles as Christians and so is sometimes avoided also in case it makes us feel uncomfortable.

    Comment by Karen — July 26, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

  19. Karen,

    “How many people have you met who say that the reason they don’t attend church or believe is because of Joyce Meyer or Brian Tamaki?”

    All the non-christians i have talked to since the tv showing Karen. That’s what I said in my post. “It has been interesting to talk with my non-christian friends who have watched the Brian Tamaki video.” I’m not having a go, simply stating a fact, born out of my conversations with my friends (non-Christian), over the last weeks.

    If, as you say, innocent people can become celebrity, isn’t that even more of a worry? That we have a Christian culture which does this?

    What do you think of my suggestion that Christian celebrities should give it all away, apart from a base income, set by an outside agencies, thus enabling them to be above critique?

    In terms of the OT, I do a major OT series every year. I did the 12 minor prophets last year and Deuteronomy last year.


    Comment by steve — July 27, 2008 @ 9:29 am

  20. Karen,

    You start your comment by saying: “Here we are again making harsh judgements about people we have not met and believing that what you see on the media is true.” Can you clarify for me please who the “we” is? Can you also point me to the other places in this blog were “harsh judgements about people” are made?

    I just want to be sure you are not making a “harsh judgements” about this blog? Or if you are right and I have some thinking to do before God.


    Comment by steve — July 27, 2008 @ 9:36 am

  21. When I said ‘here we go again’ I was not just referring to this blog but the general way that Christians and pastors feel the need to bag someone else who is getting out there reaching people where they are at – the coalface. I don’t think this is the first time you have been negative about another person on your blog but then it is YOUR blog and you are free to express your opinions. But you have also been negative verbally about Brian before. Personal attacks do annoy me a little.
    As for giving all money you make away apart from a standard wage who determines what the standard wage is? Isn’t this a personal matter between the individual and God? I have seen an awful lot of pastors over the years really struggling financially and having to rely on regular food parcels – is this right? I just think it is easy to bag the person who is doing it different to us. Besides if people like Brian are wise in the investments which then make more money so they can bless more people where is the wrong in that? I don’t believe in all the prosperity doctrine but I have personally seen God bless my own wee family over the past few years while on a student allowance not so much financially but taking care of our NEEDS. We have not gone hungry yet and have managed to pay our bills although it has required some forward planning on our parts. God blesses those who live by his principles and are generous with what he has given them.
    What would you do if BCNZ wanted to pay your more or one of your books took off and made you lots of money or you were offered more money to speak at a certain event? Would you give the extra earned away? If you would that’s great but you can’t condemn someone else who feels differently.

    Comment by Karen — July 27, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  22. thanks karen. In terms of fairness, I would like to note that there are 1267 posts on this blog. One mentions Brian Tamaki and that is a media interview (and, as you say, you can’t control the media). So that is 2 posts in a total of 1267.

    You ask, who sets the levels? As I have already commented, most denominations do. The Baptists do.

    You ask, what would I do if my book took off? I’d like to think I could practise what I preach. The verses Lynne and I had read at our wedding were from Proverbs 30:8-9.


    Comment by steve — July 27, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

  23. The Lord uses all kinds of different fishermen to catch fish. Maybe He also uses big bait to attract big fish and small bait to fit small fish…..besides, when Peter said: “and what shall this man do? Jesus answered: “What is it to you…?”

    Comment by anonymous — August 1, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

  24. interesting … lets play with the fish/bait analogy a bit …

    what if the fisherman uses a hook that tears the mouth of the fish and leaves it scarred for life?

    what if the fisherman uses dynamite and kills all the fish?

    should a bystander say nothing?


    Comment by steve — August 29, 2008 @ 2:30 pm

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