American Christian Leadership In Question

                                   By Phil Scovell

               What you  are about to read is something  that came to me on
          the morning of Sunday, September 23, as I sat and considered  all
          the things I had been hearing  during the week.  Some things  are
          my own  personal opinions  while others are  things the  Lord has
          shown me about the church in America over the last year.

               I have  been greatly concerned  in recent days that  some of
          our national  Christian leaders have been speaking  out about the
          terrorist  attack on  the  World  Trade Center.    My concern  is
          specifically about their negativity, as it relates to the nation,
          and because of whom they blame for  this tragedy.  Their messages
          have  been  largely  inflammatory,  specifically  degrading,  and
          purposely accusatory.   The tone of their messages  have been one
          which clearly  outlines  this  nation is  being  judged  for  its
          sinfulness   by  sinners   whom   they   painstakingly  name   as
          prostitutes,  pimps, homosexuals,  abortionists, criminals,  drug
          dealers,  addicts, and  immoral  people  in general.    I am  not
          referring to a single person's remarks but several of whom I have
          read  or personally  heard on  radio  and television.   They  all
          attempt to use Scripture as the bases for their claims as well.

               I   have  spoken  with  Christians  who  find  these  public
          statements  by Christians not  only confusing and  disturbing but
          Biblically conflicting.  If in case you, too, are confused let me
          state it  in terms  we  all can  understand.   They  believe  the
          reasons  behind   the  loss  of  perhaps  6,000   lives  and  the
          destruction  of the  World  Trade  towers,  not  to  mention  the
          disruption  of the  stock  market,  is a  direct  result of  this
          nation,  as  a   whole,  not  repenting   and  turning  to   God.
          Furthermore, they believe it is a sign of God's judgement upon us
          as  a nation for  all of our  wickedness.  Many  of them strongly
          recommend you, at this most critical of financial times, pull all
          of your money  out of the stock  market.  In short,  they believe
          sinners are  to blame and  specifically sinners who are  not born
          again Christians as they define it.

               Now, I  am going to tell you what  I personally think.  Keep
          in mind, I have no large church to promote.  I have no  Christian
          magazine  for which  I will  solicit  your monthly  subscription.
          Furthermore,  I  have  no  ministry  to support  and  I  have  no
          television program  for which I must pay.  Nor am I going to hold
          an offering plate  under your nose before I finish my sermon.  So
          you can  take my words for what they are  worth because I have no
          hidden agenda.

               First,  I submit these  national Christian leaders  are self
          appointed.   Are They  operating large ministries  with worldwide
          ministries due to  their mighty power with God or  is their power
          mostly  electronic in nature?   Ask yourself  the question, would
          their  comments  be spread  throughout  the known  world  if they
          didn't  have radio and  television and internet  website networks
          upon  which to  broadcast  their  opinions?   How  many of  their
          authored books  would be best  sellers if they didn't  have their
          radio and TV  ministries to promote  their own  works?  How  many
          miracles,  signs and  wonders, have  you seen  being manifest  in
          their ministries in recent years?  Any?  Some?   A few?  How many
          of  their prophecies  have been  fulfilled to  the letter?   All?
          Some?  None?  If the answer isn't all, then why are  we listening
          to them?   There are, at least  in my mind, some  questions which
          demand answers before we consider the validity of their message.

               First,  who appointed  them to  lead us?   God?   Their huge
          multi million dollar ministries?  Their large radio or television
          ministries?     Their  well  oiled  fund  raising  and  marketing
          techniques employed to  advance their  ministries?   The size  of
          their mailing list?  The bottom line of their  monthly and annual
          financial records?  The books they have authored?  Who, for  that
          matter,  has appointed  them as  the  spokesman for  the Body  of
          Christ in  the United  States?   Their denomination,  their Bible
          colleges, or their television broadcast  network?  Are they  well
          known  because  of   the  precise  fulfilling  nature   of  their
          prophecies  God  has  given  them  about our  nation?    Have  we
          witnessed the  power of  their prayers in  behalf of  our nation?
          Are  they  seen  as national  Christian  leaders  because of  the
          compassion   and  love   for  the   those   outside  of   Christ?
          Furthermore, what  about all  these homosexuals,  criminals, drug
          dealers, pimps, prostitutes, abortionists, and immoral people who
          have caused this horrible loss  of life and brought the judgement
          of  God upon us  as a nation?   Why haven't  these ministers been
          able to reach these  poor depraved people with  the Gospel?   Has
          God's arm  waxed weak that  it can  no longer save  through their
          ministries?  Aren't they spending  enough money to reach the lost
          for  Christ?   Aren't they  broadcasting  enough?   While we  are
          talking about  money, how much  of their  ministry offerings  has
          gone  to New York in recent days?   How many teams of people have
          been sent from their churches to  help our fellow citizens in and
          around Ground  Zero?  Have  they sacrificed, selling off  much of
          their  properties, and  delivered  the  money  to  those  hurting
          families in New  York?  I ask  again:  Why hasn't  their national
          and international  radio and  television broadcast  been able  to
          reach those  they claim  are the cause  for God's  judgement upon
          America?   For that  matter, how  many hours  can they  say their
          entire church has logged in praying for our  nation over the last
          year?  How  much protection have  they prayed upon America?   How
          much intercession has been conducted for those who they claim are
          the cause of God's judgement?  By  the way, if your message is so
          powerful and your prophets so  precise and accurate, and you have
          such intimacy  with God through  prayer, why weren't you  able to
          predict  and warn  the  people of  New  York  in advance  as  the
          prophets of old did  to the nation of Israel?  Did you walk naked
          and barefoot  for three  years as Isaiah  did before  the people,
          calling  upon them  to  repent,  prior to  the  falling of  God's
          judgement upon his country or were you too preoccupied putting on
          your makeup  to look your  best before the television  cameras on
          your TV show?

               I think  they are right about  one thing.  What  happened in
          New  York September  11,  2001 was  a  wake up  call  but not  to
          America.  It was  a wake up call to the church.   We have sinned.
          We have forgotten God and replaced him with a marketing plan.  We
          have  commercialized  Christ  and  substituted  the  Gospel  with
          televised  interviews, mass  choirs, transparent  pulpits, padded
          pews, and preachers  with 300 dollar  shoes, 1,000 dollar  suits,
          20,000 dollar  Rolex watches,  and 150,000  dollar limousines  to
          take  them to  their  1.3  million dollar  homes  in the  suburbs
          following  their record  breaking  church  service or  television
          shows.    Furthermore,  we  have  elevated  coaches  to  national
          Christian  leadership positions,  complete with  their own  multi
          million  dollar parachurch  ministries, simply because  they have
          won  football  championships.    We   have  allowed  professional
          athletes to become  the crowns of spirituality, inviting  them to
          speak in our  pulpits and on  Christian television programs,  all
          because they pull down  millions of dollars each  year and say  a
          short  prayer just  before trotting  out  on to  the baseball  or
          football  field or the  basketball court.  Of  course, we have to
          ask them  to speak during off season  times because they are busy
          playing professional sports  on Sundays during regulation  season
          times and aren't available.  We have taken the words of Hollywood
          stars,  claiming to  be  Christian,  and found  them  to be  more
          fascinating than the preaching of God's Word.  We have succumb to
          promotion  over doctrine, marketing  over theology, and  sales of
          Christian  products over  the cross  of  Jesus Christ.   We  have
          flaunted converted criminals in front of the world, claiming they
          are now born again Christians,  instead of focusing on the bodily
          resurrection  of  Jesus  Christ.   We  have  taken  are Christian
          cameras into  the prisons and  video taped violent  murderers and
          asked for their opinions of how we should live the Christian life
          and then turned  around and sold copies of the tapes on our daily
          broadcasts to  eager Christians  willing and ready  to use  their
          credit cards to call toll  free ministry numbers to purchase that
          tape.  Of  course, anything you give  above the cost of  the tape
          goes  to  support our  ministry.    We  spend hundreds  of  hours
          preparing  for guest speakers and Christian entertainers and five
          minutes before the green light flashes  the show is to go on  the
          air, we pray and  ask God's blessing.   Furthermore, we even  pay
          these amazing and incredible guests to be  on our shows and to be
          interviewed.   This  is supposed  to challenge  us to  live Godly
          lives?    moreover, we  have  shifted  the  Gospel to  radio  and
          television ministries  rather than  local New Testament  churches
          meeting  in storefronts and canvassing the neighborhoods to reach
          the lost with  the Gospel of Jesus Christ on  a one-on-one bases.
          We have depersonalized  the Gospel by Christian  entertainers who
          couldn't  make it on the public  circuit but found their niche in
          the Christian  world.   We have weakened  the church  by creating
          thousands of parachurch ministries which siphon local monies away
          from  legitimate New  Testament churches  by  the millions  every
          week.   then, if  one of those  parachurch ministries experiences
          financial  difficulty,  they  have a  wonderful  mailing  list of
          churches all over  America to whom they can mass mail in order to
          raise millions  of dollars  to keep  their parachurch  ministries
          alive  and productive.  Additionally, we have ignorantly reversed
          church leadership roles so  we are now spiritually weak,  anemic,
          deaf and blind to the leading of the Holy Spirit.   Worst of all,
          we have turned and  blamed it on  others rather than taking  upon
          ourselves  the  responsibilities   God  has  given  us   for  our
          communities in and through our churches.

               It is time  for our church leaders to repent and turn to God
          and to stop blaming everyone else for their failures.   Then, and
          only then, will  they be able to  lead.  They may  also discover,
          they  were never  called to be  leaders in  the first place.   In
          which case, I  expect them to resign  and step down and  let more
          spiritually responsible men and women of God take their places.

               If  anyone has failed and brought about the national tragedy
          upon our country, it is the church.  We have  not prayed; we have
          not fasted;  we have not  given; we have  not sought God  and His
          mercy.  We have let our own people down and  now we try and blame
          others.  Repentance begins  at the house of the Lord.   When will
          it begin?    Now?   Later?   When I  see  our national  Christian
          leaders,  so-called,  calling  the  churches  to  repentance  and
          confessing their sins to the Lord  publicly, perhaps revival will
          come to America.

               What  happened in  New York  at the  World Trade  Center was
          nothing short  of evil attempting  to destroy what God  has given
          this country.   I  will remind  you, the  devil did  not give  us
          America  and  her freedom  of  speech, freedom  of  assembly, and
          freedom of  religion.  The  devil did  not bless this  country to
          send  out and financially support more missionaries to evangelize
          the world than any other nation on the planet.  The devil did not
          provide us  with the ability to work and to  make a living and to
          provide for our families.  The devil did not give us  the freedom
          to vote  and to  elect our  national leaders.   What  happened on
          September 11, 2001 was nothing less than  a demonic attack on the
          United States  of  America  and  we have  no  one  to  blame,  as
          Christians, but ourselves.

               One month before the attack  on America, my youngest son was
          married.   A few days  following the  attack on America,  this 19
          year  old son of mine went right down  to the U S Post Office and
          filled out the selective service forms.  Why, you ask, when there
          is no draft and  isn't likely ever  going to be?   The answer  is
          simple.  He wanted to show  his love and loyalty for his  country
          just in case the draft was reinstated.  In short, he wanted to be
          ready to serve if called upon.

               If you are a born  again Christian, you are called  to serve
          as well.   Part of our service is to stand against evil.  Have we
          done that or did we in fact, as Christians, let the people of New
          York down?   Are you  ready now?  Go  sign up with  God and start
          praying for your  country, its leaders,  and for its  protection.
          Learn how  to pray and  keep praying till  you learn.   Become an
          intercessor.   Before everything else, repent; for yourself, your
          family, and  your church  and its leadership  because we  are not
          right with God  as a church nationwide.   Don't blame others  but
          seek God.  Stop evil before it strikes again.  this  is something
          all Christians can do who know God and know how to pray.

               Pastors,  start leading.   Shepherds  led  their flocks  and
          protected them from harm.   Are you doing that as a pastor or are
          you spending your time with church duties?  If you aren't praying
          more than your church members,  you aren't a shepherd, you aren't
          leading, and you are not protecting your flock from harm.  No one
          can do  it for you.   It  is time  to stop acting  the part  and,
          instead, becoming a part of the Body of Christ once again.  After
          all, pastors are sheep, too.  Stop  being pastoral and be Christ-
          like.   Lead by  example.   Don't tell  us how  to do  it; do  it
          yourself and  we will follow.  Open your  ears and heart to other
          called anointed  ministers of the church and stop trying to do it
          all yourself.   Stop being afraid of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
          in others.   Minister  to those whom  God has  given you  in your
          church.   If you  do not, God's  power will not  come nor will He
          increase your flock.  Stop  attempting to build another church on
          top of the Lord's.  The power of  God will come when we are ready
          to receive it.   If we don't have His power, we  will be devoured
          by the enemy.
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