Living in the Philadelphia area, I routinely flip over to Matt O’Donnell, Tamela Edwards, and the Action News Team for my weekly wake-up dose of reality. Stabbings, murders, rapes, earthquakes, lava flows… You know. Just the stuff you need to get your day started off with a “What is the world coming to!” bang. We go to sleep with Jim Gardner at 11, we wake up with Matt, Tamela, David, and Karen in the AM.
So imagine my shock this morning when I flipped on the FiOS box and was immediately met with a different kind of morning wake-up call. I guess I accidentally left the Gospel Music Channel on after watching a rerun of a rerun of a rerun of “Sue Thomas: FB-EYE” on GMC. There on my TV screen, begging for cash with the breathless earnestness of a man on the verge of starvation, was a guy I’d never heard of. Mike Murdock was his name. He was literally shouting into my face, “Don’t let your seed stay in your hand! If you don’t plant your $1000 or $2000 seed you won’t get your harvest!”
For a brief, appalled, moment I impulsively flipped the channel back over to Action News. For as sad and depressing as murder is, I’ll take praying for a murder victim’s family any day of the week compared to indulging a screaming, greedy televangelist for even a moment.
The math is simple.
Murder = real life.
Televangelist = [usually] a big fat phony.
But Murdock’s lure was too strong. I felt compelled to return, instinctively drawn as one might be drawn to an unfolding train wreck.
When Murdock’s face again filled my screen I felt a curious sense of deja vu. Mike Murdock reminded me of someone. Who was it?
OLIVER PLATT! Yeah, that’s the guy! Mike Murdock is Oliver Platt with a southern accent!
Now, Oliver Platt has this penchant for playing creepy, untrustworthy characters on the big screen. Yep. Mike Murdock immediately struck me as a creepy Oliver Platt-esque kind of guy.
Mike Murdock is but another in a long line of thieving, greedy televangelists, all of whom represent variations on a common theme. “Name-it. Claim-it.” Or, you could also pinpoint them as a part of the Word-Faith club, but whatever you call them, the words “scam artist” should also pop to the fore.
As I lingered on Murdock’s urgent, mock telethon, I also got a chance to see the biggest, whitest, nerdiest Gospel choir led by the fattest, nerdiest, hair-pluggiest white guy on the planet, all doing their darndest to sound black, hip, and rhythmic. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. I don’t know who those pasty-complected, baby-faced, college-aged kids were, but they were pouring out their black-gospel best for the world to see. Only thing was… their bodies were all going every which way in the process. It was like watching a giant, mass, convulsion set to Gospel music.
But I hung in there.
Mike Murdock then came back on screen and at first opened with a whisper…
“All we’re trying to do…”
He paused for dramatic, emotional effect.
“…is seed the kingdom for God…”
…Blah, blah, blah…
“…and if you’re sitting there, holding your $1000 or $2000 in your hand…” (intensity building)
…Blah, blah, blah…
“…YOU HAVE A JEHOVAH JIREH! YOU HAVE A JEHOVAH JIREH! YOU HAVE A JEHOVAH JIREH!”
(For the uninitiated, “Jehovah Jireh” is often used by the name-it, claim-it crowd to signify the name of the cosmic sugar daddy known as God. Any time you hear a preacher shout out, “Jehovah Jireh” you can take reasonable assurance in the notion that he (or she, ‘cuz charlatans are increasingly equal opportunity offenders these days) is a big, fat, money-grubbing phony.
You heard me right.
“But, Mr. NoMoreGreed,” you might be thinking to yourself. “Who are you to say that these people are phonies?”
The Bible gives me that right. God gave me a brain, gave me the Holy Spirit, gave me the gift of discernment, and called me to use the gift of discernment to expose money-grubbing thieves in sheep’s clothing. The Bible warns us that in the end times people will do this kind of stuff, leading astray innocent, well-intentioned Christians with messages that promise an easy path to eternal life. (“Broad is the road that leads to destruction…” [Matt. 7:13]) You, I, our offspring and all other believers are all called to be so steeped in scripture that we immediately, through the power of the Holy Spirit, recognize big, fat, money-grubbing phonies for what they are, whether they claim to be Christians or not.
But there is something else about these guys that is always a tip-off…
Obsession with Old Testament promises and prophecy.
You see, Christian scam artists all tend to rely heavily on the Old Testament ‘cuz they don’t much like the simple, other-focused reality of the New Testament.
Jesus said it best…
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” (Luke 12:33)
Hmmm… I might be wrong, but didn’t Jesus clear the temple of people who cashed in on the religious fervor of faithful believers? Jesus also roamed around proclaiming the Good News with little more than the coat on his back.
These guys – Mike Murdock included – divert our attention from the real prize. Regardless of what they say, the prize isn’t money, or a black BWM 7 series, or even a 4000 sq ft McMansion.
No, the real prize for the Christian is salvation in Christ and an opportunity to share the gift of salvation with as many people as possible. Guys like Murdock appeal to a deep-rooted, secret sin; our selfish desire for a comfortable, trouble-free life. These people get us zoned in on assuring our comfort in the here and now to the detriment of preparing people for eternity.
Or maybe they are really doing us a service? Perhaps if we just make our lives comfortable enough in the here and now the overwhelming perfection and paradise of heaven won’t be such a shock to our systems.
So the NoMoreGreed scam alert is up for Mr. Mike Murdock. Send your money to Haiti before you send a nickel to this charlatan.