Publication: Pastoral Letter, January 2000
Dear Friend in Christ:
Greetings in the name of the Lord of all ages! I pray that this new millennium will witness His glory in all the earth, and that we can witness to all mankind that He is Lord!
I am writing this letter a month prior to the actual entrance of the new century and millennium, so I do not know the result of the much discussed Y2K issue, but we do know that our Lord’s mission for us is unchanged. And I pray that your focus is on that mission.
I am writing this upon my return from Slovakia, where leaders and believers gathered from six nations in Central and Eastern Europe. They came primarily from the former Soviet Block countries, such as the Ukraine, Poland, Hun, Slovakia and the area formerly known as East Germany. My friend Goos Vedder sponsored the meetings along with the church in Nitra, Slovakia.
Goos is Dutch, but now lives in Manchester, England. In earlier years, he ministered with “Brother Andrew,” the Bible smuggler. As we crossed the Slovakian-Austrian border, Goos recalled the times when at that very place, he prayed for God to “blind the eyes” of the border guards, so that they would not see the hundreds of Bibles that he was transporting in concealed compartments in his car. Now, there are churches in those areas that have grown out of Bible study, and Goos is greatly respected by these new believers.
COVENANT AND KINGDOM
In order to have the funds to translate our book, The Covenant and the Kingdom, in the Slovakian language, Goos ran in the Los Angeles Marathon. He was sponsored by believers in Central and Eastern Europe, and they raised the $7,000 necessary to print the book. Goos had previously gotten the book translated into Polish. Considering the economic situation, it was a sacrificial act on the part of the small, economically deprived churches. And of course, running the marathon was a sacrificial act as well.
We crossed the border this time with no fear of the guards. Our Bibles and books are being received with great freedom and joy as the light is overcoming the darkness, thanks to Jesus, and to devoted followers.
The meetings in Slovakia lasted all day and into the night for the approximately 400 people who gathered. Their hunger was evident as some of them drove 14 hours in freezing weather to attend. They made the most of the time. I left tired, but joyful, as I witnessed their hunger for truth. The younger generation was especially zealous and grateful to God for the new era.
While we fellowshipped, I heard interesting stories…moving stories…of how some of them had come to Christ. I heard about Russian Mafia figures that had accepted Jesus in the Ukraine.
The theme of the conference was “The Father’s Kingdom.” I taught on “God’s Nature as Eternal Father, “Jesus’ Revelation of the Father,” “Natural and Spiritual Fatherhood,” and “The Economics of His Kingdom.” I closed with “How to be Productive and Relationally Evangelistic.” They were particularly gripped by the relationship between God’s government and economics. If anyone doubts that the lack of biblical truth has a relationship to economic poverty, they should visit a nation that has been deprived of the truth.
Many families there earn less than $200 per month and pay taxes and high costs for quality goods. Even for those who do have some money, goods and services are often not available. But due to the Gospel, things are getting better. I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, these nations will arise as a testimony to the power of the Gospel.
WHO OWNS THE GOLD?
I find it difficult to restrain righteous indignation, when I review the cause of the untold misery caused by bad theology. Bad theology not only sends people to hell, it makes life itself a hell. No one will ever know, this side of heaven, how many were killed, starved, deprived, and devastated by the utopian theories of the “enlightenment” propagated by secularists and “intellectual” elitists, who sought to remove God and enthrone man. The Bible calls it foolish, and history confirms the Bible’s assessment. When Christ’s Kingdom life and principles are forsaken, men and women are left to walk in the dim light of their own “sparks,” and the result is lostness, chaos, and tragedy.
The Bible says that the gold and silver belong to God (see Haggai 2:8); socialism says it belongs to the State; capitalism says it belongs to us. But the scriptures say that it all belongs to God. As I flew over to Austria, I was fortunate to be upgraded to “business class,” because of my frequent flyer miles. I sat beside an extremely wealthy man. He lives in the United States and manages a very large corporation. He belongs to a golf club in another nation, and flew across the ocean just to play golf. On this day, he was flying across for dinner with business associates. I thought, “What a difference it would make if he saw himself as a steward of wealth and not the owner of it.” Whether one believes that the State owns the gold and promotes the confiscation of other peoples’ labor, or that individuals own it who do not acknowledge God, the results are not good.
Wealth is not evil; it is an opportunity. I abhor the notion that poverty is good, having witnessed it many times. I believe that God wants to work with us to create wealth and manage it for the benefit of His Kingdom. I do not intend to criticize either those who are poor or those who are rich. But my heart aches over our ignorance of the Gospel and the terrible price we pay for it.
Abraham was wealthy (see Genesis 13:2). God intended Israel to prosper; He brought them out of Egypt with wealth. David and Solomon brought great prosperity to Israel. So…do I preach prosperity? Not the way that some define it. I preach that seeking first His Kingdom will prosper us. It is not the “gospel of prosperity,” but the prosperity of the Gospel that I preach.
The “gospel of poverty” is not Good News. It has robbed multitudes of opportunity, education, health, the opportunity to give, and has left the gold and silver to workers of evil. We must change our view about money if we are to bless people and have the resources to extend the Kingdom.
I am not worried that some fellow Christian will apply Kingdom principles and become wealthy. I pray that many will! But I am concerned that many people will steal from God and misuse wealth. I am even more concerned that we will portray our Father in heaven as harsh, and rejoicing in human misery. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11 NKJ).
HONORING GOD, BLESSING PEOPLE
If wealth itself is wicked, then what about heaven, where the very streets are paved with gold? If the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous, then will the righteous become wicked when they receive it? If the saints are to rule the world, what will they do with the gold? Is it all right for churches to have gilded ceilings and walls, but the believers have floors of dirt? No. Our task is to preach a gospel which both honors God and blesses people.
Yes, many have given up family, houses, and land for the Kingdom, but they shall receive a hundred-fold and eternal life (see Matthew 19:29).
I offer the following suggestions: Seek God and His blessing, be productive and manage well, give God the first fruit, be generous to the poor, and show mercy. Then there will be abundance both in God’s house and yours.
As you give, remember your local church and the opportunities for outreach in your community. Also, please remember our mission here at CSM. “Y2K” is not a time to withdraw in fear, but to advance into the new open doors of opportunity that God has set before us. For CSM, last year was a time of great sowing and accomplishment, despite significant financial leanness. We need seed in order to continue our sowing; we trust in Him Who “gives seed to the sower.”
If the Lord lays it on your heart, would you consider a special gift to CSM this January, as we begin a new year, a new century, and a new millennium? One upcoming project is the publication of The Covenant and the Kingdom in the Spanish language. It is already translated, and we believe it will have significant impact in the Spanish-speaking world, just as it has in translations for Slovakia, Poland, India, China, Russia, and other places.
We face regular monthly needs of $35,000. Our budget is not extravagant, but our outreach is effectively touching more than 70 nations with the Good News of Christ’s Kingdom. Young leaders are being equipped and encouraged; new churches are being planted and strengthened; history is being affected through your partnership with CSM.
If you would like more information on this ministry, please call us toll-free at (888) 811-2CSM or visit our regularly-updated website: www.csmpublishing.org. Also, if you have any prayer needs, please let us know; we regularly pray for you, that God’s grace, wisdom, and power would be with you each day.
Have a blessed year 2000!
Scripture Reference” Genesis 13:2; Matthew 7:11; Haggai 2:8