Daily Devotional for Friday August 12, 2011
The Misguided Drive for Money over Souls
(Matthew 6:19-21; Hebrews 13:5; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Timothy 6:10)
The misguided drive for money over souls. I have told you for nearly 12 years now that the insatiable lust for money by many of the leading media ministries not only contributes to the stereotype that people only serve the Lord to get rich, but helps the unbelieving world justify their rejection of Christ. Several years ago, a Senate investigation led by Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance, looked into the financial dealings of Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, and Randy and Paul White, who were recently divorced. Most of the ministries stonewalled the committee and after several years the investigation was dropped because it didn't have the legal authority to force the ministries to turn over the requested financial records.
It was only a matter of time before someone in government decided having multiple multi-million dollar mansions, private jets, new Rolls Royces, and living like the kings of small nations....ALL PAID FOR WITH THE MONEY PEOPLE DONATE TO A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION...might be legal but isn't right. Having operated a non-profit ministry for nearly 20 years and being responsible for raising and overseeing the Liveprayer budget of between $1- $2 million annually, let me give you some of my thoughts and insight into this and challenge you this morning in your giving.
Let me say right up front that there is NOTHING in the Bible that says a man or woman of God is supposed to live in poverty. That is as incorrect as those who teach you are supposed to be wealthy. The Bible says that a servant is "worthy of their hire," and to "not muzzle the ox that treadeth the corn." For those who give their entire life to serving God, whose only work is the Gospel, how else are they supposed to live? Yes, I know Paul made tents, FOR A SEASON. Paul's ministry also survived on the sacrificial gifts of God's people.
So this is not about calling God's servants to live in poverty, but to live modestly. The Bible says to avoid all appearances of evil. There are many sacrifices that you make to serve the Lord, and unless you are personally wealthy outside of the ministry, living an extravagant lifestyle off of those who donate to the ministry is simply not an option. I don't think anyone objects to their pastor or the head of a ministry being fairly compensated.
This is exactly why Liveprayer operates out of donated space in the back of a used car lot, why I have always made my financial records available to the press, and our most recent audited financials are open to anyone who wants to see them. Liveprayer owns no property, no cars, we have no stock portfolios or any other investments. The ministry literally operates month to month as it has since we started 20 years ago.
Personally, I own a $300,000 home that has a $305,000 mortgage on it, drive an 11 year old car, and my annual salary is less than $40,000. Due to the financial strain, I have not taken my salary for over 2 1/2 yrs now in order to help the ministry survive these difficult times.
Despite the fact I could have easily raised $10 million plus annually by asking my TV audience for money, I have refused to raise money on the TV program since being on secular TV, reaching out to a non-Christian audience, I know that the money issue is a huge one in the minds of most non-Christians. I can't even begin to tell you the thousands of emails I have received from viewers who said I was the only TV preacher they watched because I never asked for money and wasn't trying to sell them books or tapes.
Listen, I know I have probably gone a bit overboard in trying to be a good steward of the money people donate to Liveprayer and could certainly justify better offices and a larger salary, but my goal is SOULS and to take the Truth to this lost and dying world, NOT get rich and live a life of luxury. I've made these decisions based on my many years in the ministry and have done everything I could possibly do to distance myself and set myself apart from these other folks since I am trying to build God's Kingdom, not my own. I am here to serve, not be served. My only goal is SOULS, not to live like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
My final work for the Lord is to help lead this nation back to God and His Truth, in the process leading multitudes of lost souls to faith in Jesus Christ. I am not trying to see how much money we can accumulate, or looking to simply self perpetuate the ministry year after year. I have a specific plan to help save the souls of this lost nation, while helping the lost come to faith in Jesus. I would love nothing more than to see this work accomplished in the next year and spend the rest of my life writing and leading a quiet life for whatever days the Lord gives me.
I love you and care about you so much. The worst thing of all is that the financial scandals sadly lead many souls to eternal punishment. Some people harden their hearts even more to the message of Christ because some of God's messengers made bad choices with the money God entrusted into their care. Pray for these ministers, their families and staffs. Pray that they will get back to their first love, the Lord, and let the Holy Sprit guide them in bringing their financial houses in order.
I encourage people all the time to pray about where they give some of what God has entrusted into their care. Make sure you know the ministry you are giving to and what the money is being used for. Yes we are blessed in our giving, but we have also been given common sense in where to give. Know the Bible. Giving money to some ministry is not going to get you out of debt overnight, it is not gong to save your children overnight, and it is not gong to heal you overnight, it is not going to make you rich overnight. If you are "giving to get," you are giving with the wrong motives. You should be giving as an act of sacrifice and worship, and giving to be a blessing. As a good steward, you should be giving to make an impact for Christ in people's lives.
That is why each month I have no hesitation in asking you to help me. I don't play games with you or try to manipulate you in any way. I openly and honestly share our needs and ask you to pray about helping me. The money we raise each month at Liveprayer goes directly to reaching souls for Christ and bringing God's Truth into the marketplace. I've told you many times, the time for playing games is over. SOULS ARE AT STAKE AND SATAN IS NOT PLAYING GAMES!
There is not much time left and God is raising up a new generation of voices to carry His Truth who are not bound by money or the things of this temporal world. They can't be bought like a tube of toothpaste and won't ever compromise the Bible for any reason. Their only goal is not the applause of men (or the money of man), but the "Well done," of the Father!
***As we head into the last 20 days of August, please be in prayer with me for the operational finances we need to bring in right away. We ended July $25,000 short of covering our July operational budget, and have made up $5,000 of that in the first 10 days of this month leaving us still $20,000 short to cover the balance of our July operations. Also, we still need the final $30,000 of the $150,000 I asked the Lord to deliver by the end of April so we could catch up all basic operational expenses we are in arrears. That is $50,000 we need right away, plus the $40,000 we need for our August operations for a total of $90,000 we need over the next 20 days to have all of our basic operational expenses covered.
Please take a moment and pray for theses needs to be met, and for what the Lord is speaking to YOUR heart to do to help me today. As we prepare to take advantage of new doors the Lord is opening for us to have a highly visible place in the marketplace to help lead this nation back to God and His Truth, I'm simply asking you to pray today and seek the Lord what He is calling you to do to help me to cover the $90,000 balance to insure all of our basic operational needs are met by the end of the month. Never forget that God will honor your heart as you obey His voice. Will you help me today? Will you please take a minute today, and pray, seek the Lord what He is asking you to sacrifce.
Also, on the 31st, we celebrate the 12 year anniversary of Liveprayer. If you have not given to His work for a while, or never given at all but God has blessed you through Liveprayer, please pray about sending a gift of $12, $120, or $1,200 this month. That is $1, $10, or $100 for every year Liveprayer has been sharing His Truth and the hope and love of Jesus Christ with the lost and hurting around the world. It is friends like you who have enabled us to
TO GIVE A GIFT TO LIVEPRAYER, you can use your major credit card on our secure server at: www.liveprayer.com under the "Donation" link, you can give using your PayPal account using my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org,or you can mail your gift to: Liveprayer, 6660 46th Ave. North, St.Petersburg, FL 33709. All gifts to Liveprayer are 100% tax deductible.
Know that you and your family are in my prayers each day. Thank you for your love, prayers, and support as we take our stand in these last days. The time is very short, our time is now!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller