By Teena Myers
I was familiar with the pastor’s ministry, but I have not visited the church in twenty years. Churches change with time, so to me this would be a first time guest experience. This pastor had started an independent church when the sins of his pastor were brought to light in the 1980s. A family member attended his church. I wanted to make it my church home, but my husband was not agreeable.
The few times I attended God spoke to me. The first time, in the late 1980s, the small but full building hosted a guest speaker. The minister spoke a prophecy to me that came to pass a year later. The second time, in the early 1990s, the congregation had built a huge, beautiful sanctuary dedicated to evangelizing the world. The pastor said the Lord had changed his sermon shortly before service. I needed that new sermon.
I walked into the once prosperous church pruned to a stump. There were 70 people in a sanctuary that easily held 2,500. I had noticed signs of decline before I opened the door. The weeds filled the cracks on the dry marble fountain. The interior fared better, except for the numerous stains on the carpet. The warm building suggested the air conditioning was not in use or set high as a cost saving measure. The size of the congregation and the long justification for tithing suggested they no longer had enough money to maintain the building.
An overhead projector displayed words to the songs on a wall. Until someone turned on a computer to take its place. Superseded by the high tech computer, the woman turned off the projector. A man removed the cover from one of two television cameras but never returned to film the service. I knew the pastor had a TV program at one time. Later that day, a little internet sleuthing revealed he no long had a presence on TV or radio.
Sad to see a once prosperous church in a state of decline. Warning signs flashed when the pastor said God told him in a dream that he told Eve not to touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I am skeptical of these kinds of divine revelations. I started my Christian walk following the teachings of a pastor who claimed Jesus appeared to him seven times and taught him how to have faith. Later, I learned this doctrine was a lie that destroyed people and their faith. A few years ago, I heard a minister claim Jesus had appeared to him hundreds of times to explain why he never attended Bible College. Lies just keep getting bigger and bigger.
The divine message about Eve justified the pastor’s belief that Jesus stripped Satan of his power when he died and was resurrected. I agree. After his resurrection Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” I don’t agree with the timing because this pastor used scriptures in Revelation that have not happened yet as though they already had.
Time does not limit God. He told Adam, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Atheist use this scripture to prove God lied to Adam because he did not die within 24 hours. But to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. Adam was 930 years old when he died. As God perceives time, Adam died in the day he ate of the tree.
The same applies to the things God has given to Jesus. God gave Jesus the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River in his covenant with Abraham. Jesus came and left without possessing any of the land that rightfully belongs to him. Yes, the pastor is right. Jesus defeated the devil, and all authority has been given to him in heaven and on earth, but he is not walking in the office of king yet.
The book of Revelation is clear. “The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” after the last or seventh trumpet sounds (Revelation 11:15-18). The first trumpet has not sounded yet much less the last one. If the trumpets had sounded, a third of the earth would already be destroyed.
Today, Jesus is doing in heaven the same thing Moses did in his ministry. Moses ministered from earth as an intercessor and eventually died. We have an intercessor who will never die and one day return to earth as a king with authority over all kingdoms of the earth. Until then, we live by faith.
The pastor concluded his comments. His longtime associate preached a message about the meaning of faith. The message was a series of clever criticisms about the foolish things done by ministers in the faith movement.
I never heard the associate define and explain faith. Maybe he did when my thoughts drifted to a memory about my brother who left this church after he tried to ask the pastor a question. The pastor was not interested in him or his question. He spotted a speaker on the wall that looked loose and walked away in the middle of their conversation as though my brother was a nuisance instead of the reason the church existed. This pastor may have fared better in his ministry if he had pursued people instead of buildings.
I drove to the church looking forward to the service, and departed sad, wondering if the pastor’s spiritual life was as battle-scarred as the building looked. The presence of God that had once met me there in times of need wasn’t there anymore.