Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Lifestyles of the mega-rich pastors with estates and private jets: You’ll be shocked to see who is among them (OK it’s Beth Moore)

I know that we’re all familiar with the ridiculous extravagance of some of the word of faith preachers. Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen with their jets and mansions and vacation homes and gold commodes and the like. Occasionally when someone comments on their over-the-top lifestyles of these supposed men and women of God, especially the private jets, replies often veer to the extreme in defending their purchase and use for a ‘ministry’. Duplantis said he needed the plane so he could work. Copeland said the same, the private plane is his sanctuary. They agreed they could talk to God better and there would not be distractions of people coming up to them asking for prayer. They needed the plane so they could work. Remember these reasons later. For work.

Can you picture Paul spending ministry money to hire this palanquin, the Lear Jet of the day?

We chortle and giggle at these obvious extremes, and wonder how much money could be spent elsewhere if only the preacher would cut down on the luxury living and donate the funds to worthy ministries, their own congregation, or anywhere else except to support their self-indulgent lifestyle choices.

The Bible is clear on life and doctrine. Ministers and leaders must be pure, humble, and Godly. It is not a sin to be rich, not at all. Abraham and Job and Solomon and Joseph of Arimathea were extremely wealthy. Lydia was rich. Joseph and Mary were nearly peasants and many of the disciples were simple fishermen. The Bible runs the gamut on the sliding scale of wealth, showing us many different people and lifestyles in its pantheon of heroes and villains. The point isn’t having the money. The point is what you do with it.

The Bible does warn, however, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain heaven. (Matthew 19:24). Barnes’ Notes explains well:

The difficulties in the way of the salvation of a rich man are:
1. that riches engross the affections.
2. that people consider wealth as the chief good, and when this is obtained they think they have gained all.
3. that they are proud of their wealth, and unwilling to be numbered with the poor and despised followers of Jesus.
4. that riches engross the time, and fill the mind with cares and anxieties, and leave little for God.
5. that they often produce luxury, dissipation, and vice. that it is difficult to obtain wealth without sin, without avarice, without covetousness, fraud, and oppression, 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 6:17; James 5:1-5; Luke 12:16-21; Luke 16:19-31.
Still, Jesus says Matthew 19:26, all these may be overcome. God can give grace to do it. Though to people it may appear impossible, yet it is easy for God.

When we think of mega-rich pastors and leaders living luxuriant lifestyles, we usually think of Copeland, Duplantis, Dollar, Meyer, and Osteen. Yet there are other leaders who live similarly to the megapastors I’ve just mentioned. I’d like to bring your attention to Beth Moore’s lifestyle. Yes, Beth Moore.

Moore puts forth the deliberate image that she is just a sister to us all, living a struggling life with her man, eatin’ Ramen, and listening to the crickets for entertainment. The lifestyle image she carefully cultivates is a Ma Ingalls type. Here’s her description under her photo of the creek by their home on their property. It’s true. Read for yourself.

We have a tiny little sliver of water not far from us that you could call a creek if you were in a particularly generous mood. It’s got some sand by it that the kids really like. Be blessed that this is not a scratch and sniff picture because the creek doesn’t always smell all that good, especially if it hasn’t rained in a while. But if your nose is slightly stuffy, it can be pretty fun.

Here’s her description of her home they moved into several years ago:

So, three years to the day later, we’re making it out in these modest woods. These acres would not be beautiful to everybody but they’re beautiful to us. Life has been brand new out here. I won’t kid you. It’s been an adjustment. A lot less eating out. A lot more cooking. A lot more driving to work. The cars stay filthy. The raccoons won’t stay out of the trash. Fed Ex never can find us. But we don’t mind. Because it was time to make a move. For us, it was out where the dawn breaks to the crow of a rooster.

She presents that veritably, she’s scrimping and saving, eating peanut butter sandwiches by firelight to save on electricity but sighing contentedly amid all this hayseed hardship. What Moore doesn’t tell you is that the Moore property in Tomball TX, these “modest woods,” as she puts it, that “would not be beautiful to everybody,” is part of a 46 acre enclave with its own road, two houses with total of 7 bedrooms and 7 1/2 baths, custom outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, a combined square footage of 6600 sf, and assessed by Harris County TX at $1.8 million dollars. What she wants to evoke in your mind with her carefully worded PR is this:

source

when what her property really is, is this:

Note the size of the lot compared to surrounding lots. Ahem. Modest? No.
Clip shows about a quarter the actual size of the lot

It’s an enormous private property. The house isn’t as large as other mega-rich pastors’, to be sure. Her home, house A on the tax map, is 4500 square feet, (still 10X the size of my home), with 4 bedrooms, which does make sense as a family with two grown daughters and lots of grandchildren running around. But the land is a huge parcel, YUGE. The other home, House B, is for the in-laws, a 3BR home 2,200 sf in size.

To be fair, Moore moved to this enclave of 46 wooded private acres with creek and two homes, according to her blogs, was so that she and her husband Keith could give Keith’s father a quality of life in his final days, close to the family and away from the busy city. I say if you have the means to provide a house and atmosphere for elderly parents close to the nuclear family, more power to you. It honors the mother and the father as the Commandment said.

But the down-home, aw shucks lifestyle is an image, not the reality. It’s PR, and it’s not honest. The reality is, Beth Moore is President of a globally known corporation, with a constant annual salary of a quarter of a million dollars, and its net worth last year of 15 million, living in a large home in pristine wooded enclave of 46 acres outside a major city, held in a trust, with all the toys and machines one could hope for in this enclave like tractors and golf carts etc. Her social-collegial sphere is populated with other mega-rich pastors and leaders, hobnobbing with the glitterati, and flying by private plane, just like Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, and Benny Hinn do. This is NOT a “modest” lifestyle.

This is a screen shot from the tax return FY ending 2015 for
net worth of Living Proof Ministry.

Below, Moore with mega-rich pastrix Victoria Osteen and friends. Joel Osteen’s net worth (and his wife Victoria’s, pictured below) is estimated at $40 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Meanwhile, BeliefNet has Osteen, 54, listed as the fifth richest pastor in America. Source heavy.com, Aug, 2017. Friends of a feather.

Source

I’ll tell you what’s “modest”. Modest woods and filthy cars and sandy creeks, bah. Let’s get real about these terms Moore uses.

Me, I live modest. All my clothes are hand me downs. I drive a 20-year-old car that’s constantly in the repair shop. I live paycheck to paycheck, most of which is gone the first day I receive it each month. My domicile is a 400 sf apartment. A luxury for me would be to get my hair styled in a salon, and not the assembly line barbershop I usually go to. Or, not having to buy food that is expiring because I can save a dollar, is modest. My sphere is populated with other lower middle to middle-class folks who are just trying to make it, too. My sphere does not include private planes, fellow rich friends, wooded enclaves, and custom outdoor kitchens. It’s populated with middle class folks who really scrimp and save.

My concern is not so much the income or the large property Moore lives on, but the carefully curated image designed to deceive people into thinking she is less well-off than she is. It’s the hypocrisy. But wait, there’s more.

Beth Moore does not own a private jet, (yet) but she is given one to use. LifeWay, who partners with her in producing the Living Proof Live events, jets her around on a private plane, half the cost of which is paid by LifeWay and half by Living Proof Ministry. Is this any different than Kenneth Copeland or Jesse Duplantis jetting around in their jets for “ministry,”? Is this how LifeWay spends its ministry money, jetting Beth Moore from state to state?

These screen shots below are from publicly available Living Proof Ministry’s posted tax returns. Their returns are open for public inspection.

The screen shot below says “President Beth Moore on ocassion [sic] traveled by private plane to events as the ministry saw necessary. LifeWay, a partnering nonprofit, paid for 50% of the cost of the private plane, the remaining 50% was paid by Living Proof Ministries.”

Below, is this what Hillsong congregants expect their tithes and offerings to go, subsidizing a celebrity speaker’s luxury travel?

“Elizabeth Moore flew first class for a speaking engagement to Australia for the Hillsong Conference. Her daughter Melissa Moore, who is also an employee of Living Proof Ministries, traveled with Mrs Moore as her assistant. As per contract, Hillsong reimbursed Living Proof for the price of two coach tickets. Living Proof paid the difference. The benefit was not included as taxable compensation since it was ministry related, allowing Elizabeth and Melissa Moore to both work on the flight and continue working immediately upon arriving in Australia.”

Oh! Just like when Jesse Duplantis said he needed a private plane. For work. Or when Kenneth Copeland said he needed a private plane. For work.

LifeWay Christian resources is under the umbrella of the Southern Baptist Convention, as is the International Mission Board. (also here).

I want to relate these facts I’ve shared to the Bible. Paul sent Timothy to the baby church at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 4:17). The Southern Baptist Convention through its sub-arm International Mission Board sends missionaries abroad to plant churches and to help baby churches. Same-same. So far so good.

Last year (2016) the IMB recalled about 1000 missionaries in a cost-cutting measure. Not good. The other part of the SBC ‘body’, its sub-arm Lifeway, subsidizes private planes for Beth Moore.

Would Paul recall Timothy’s mission from Corinth in a cost-cutting measure, and then turn around and use the money the very poor church in Macedonia collected (2 Corinthians 8:1-3) to fund his luxury travel? Would he? Think on this: while the SBC-IMB is calling missionaries home to save money, the SBC-Lifeway is spending money for Beth Moore & family’s private plane.

This should not be.

When Beth Moore traveled to Hillsong Australia with her daughter, Hillsong paid her Coach plane fare, but that wasn’t good enough. Beth Moore then used her LP Ministry money to upgrade herself and her daughter’s travel to luxury First Class. For work.

The Living Proof Ministry does donate to worthy causes, their philanthropy is clear and present. It’s not all bad. But the hypocrisy evident in Beth Moore’s carefully presented down-home image and the reality of the money-money-money that includes private plane travel for her and her daughter needs to be exposed.

It’s a fact that Moore is not a down-home sister, but is in theology and in lifestyle more similar to Joyce Meyer and Victoria Osteen.

Paul had advice on how to engage with Believers and Gentiles.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Paul did not say he needed a pillowed palanquin, for work. He did not take the Macedonian church’s ministry offering and upgrade himself to a first class cabin on the ship. He did not pretend to sew tents for work by a sandy, smelly creek while actually writing his epistle from a palace filled with luxury comforts on the personal estate of Felix. Paul was real. His life was transparent and open, and he well knew how it would look to present one image while living another. It’s called hypocrisy.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:18,
What is my reward then? Truly that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

Paul had a right to be supported. All true ministers do. It is good for the minister to be supported and good for the hearer to give. But for the sake of those who are weak, and for several other reasons, Paul chose to give up his right, for the sake of the Gospel. Gill’s Exposition says of the verse,

that I abuse not my power in the Gospel; his right of having a maintenance, whilst he was preaching the Gospel; to have made use of which would have been an abuse of it, since it would have given occasion to the false apostles to reproach and calumniate, and might have been an hindrance to the Gospel of Christ, and a stumbling to some weak minds.

Leaders must make wise choices about their lifestyle for the sake of the Gospel and not appear to be abusing it like Beth Moore does for self-indulgences and personal luxuries.

I’m a reasonable person. I know that weather, illness, and emergencies sometimes impact the travel plans of a busy and sought-after speaker. Earlier on in Moore’s ministry, the tax records show an occasional chartered plane. I understand this. Sometimes you’ve got to get to where you’re going in order to honor a commitment. However, Moore’s upgrading herself and her daughter to first class on the Living Proof Ministry’s dime for the excuse that she can “work” isn’t any different from the word of faith preachers’ excuses. Also, using ministry money for private jet travel on both Lifeway’s and LPL’s dime is extremely questionable. This is how a person gets to be a Jesse Duplantis or a Kenneth Copeland. This is how it begins. And for Beth Moore, it has  begun.

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Further Reading

What Does The Bible Say About Material Possessions?

Is owning material things bad? If you are very wealthy, are you in sin? Is there a line drawn in the sand about owning material possessions? Well, the Bible does talk about money and material things quite a bit and doesn’t leave anything for debate. Can you own lots of material possessions and be without sin? The answer is yes, but that road, my friends, is a very treacherous and hard road to walk rightly with the Lord. Let’s look into scripture and see what the Bible says about material things.

From October 2017: Top 15 Richest and most Successful Pastors In the World 

You can’t get on a long tube with a bunch of demons. It’s deadly!

Megachurches and mega-rich pastors, a graphic

Non-Profit tax returns: search

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Billy Graham Waffles for Breakfast #2: Is AIDs a judgment from God?

Waffles for Breakfast #1: Billy Graham on the Nixon Tapes, remarking about the Jews

This series is a study on hypocrisy. Number 1 is above. The series is based on the following verses.

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. (Matthew 15:11).

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)

Waffling is a secular term that means changing one’s mind frequently on a topic. “For breakfast” means to do it easily. That defines world-famous evangelist and itinerant crusade preacher Billy Graham, whose going back and forth on theological issues was so easy and so frequent it became second nature to him.

His slide from what he stated he believes, into doctrines so far outside orthodoxy, was so incremental and so little reported, that many people don’t know that he spent a lot of time retracting, clarifying, re-explaining and watering down any doctrine where he encountered push-back. Here is one example. In a sermon given on September 1993 in Columbus OH he remarked about AIDs

Is AIDs a judgment of God? I could not say for sure, but I think so.

Afterwards, Graham received many protest letters. He contacted the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and retracted what he’d preached. His stated reason for saying it in the first place was that he was tired.

“I do believe God stands in judgment of all sins but AIDs is a disease that affects people and is not part of that judgment. To say God has judged people with AIDs would be very wrong and very cruel. I would like to say that I am very sorry for what I said.”

When Graham preached about sins, he said he wasn’t sure if AIDs was a judgment of God, but when experiencing criticism for saying it, suddenly he is sure that it is NOT a judgment for sins.
aids graham final

Here is a comparison to Graham’s waffle on AIDS of how a preacher of God’s word is clear on biblical doctrines. He is supposed to be able to succinctly give an answer, and then stand on the Rock when the waves of cultural anger resulting from his firm stand wash up upon him. Here is John MacArthur on the same subject 4 years before Graham dealt with it in his sermon.

People have asked me whether I believe that AIDS is the judgment of God. My response is that AIDS is the judgment of God in the same sense that cirrhosis of the liver is the judgment of God or that emphysema is the judgment of God. If you drink alcohol, you’re liable to get cirrhosis of the liver. If you smoke, you’re liable to get emphysema or heart disease. And if you choose to violate God’s standards for morality, you’re likely to contract venereal disease—even AIDS. It is a law that the Bible describes in terms of sowing and reaping. Article You can Trust the Bible, 1988

When a preacher is at the pulpit, it is assumed that he has been confirmed by elders as to his calling, been trained, and has studied/ prepared for the sermon. He should then declare the biblical truths with clarity and conviction. If there exists a pattern of waffling, retracting, and constantly clarifying, then it is perhaps either an issue of his qualifications for preaching (able to teach- 1 Timothy 3:2) or his heart, with hypocrisy leaking out.

Paul’s criterion “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2 refers to the ability to communicate and apply the truth of Scripture with clarity, coherence, and fruitfulness. Source

Watch out for the constant clarifying, retracting etc. A preacher is supposed to be a declarer of truth, not a constant retractor of tired sermon mistakes. Such a pattern could betray either hypocrisy as stated in the two verses above, or the following:

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Billy Graham Waffles For Breakfast #1: The Jews

Billy Graham Waffles for breakfast #2: AIDs as a Judgment from God 

This is a study on hypocrisy. Hypocrites deceive us so easily, sad to say. They deceive themselves, worse to say. Hypocrisy is poison for everyone involved.

This series is based on two verses.

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. (Matthew 15:11).

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28)

BG-NIXON
Billy Graham with Richard Nixon in 1968. Source 

Waffling is a secular term that means changing one’s mind frequently on a topic. “For breakfast” means to do it easily. That defines world-famous evangelist and itinerant crusade preacher Billy Graham, whose going back and forth on theological issues so easily it is second nature to him.

It’s been 15 years since Graham’s last crusade. His heyday of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s was well before this latest generation’s knowledge and experience. Youngsters don’t know who Graham is, except for the name. Hence, this essay series.

As for the waffling, Graham’s pattern has been to say something in an interview or in print and when it causes a ruckus, then he apologizes, or says he was misquoted, or he didn’t mean it, or he doesn’t remember saying it. Back and forth the waffling goes, on issues like creation/evolution, baptism, AIDS, alien life outside the planet, and more, over every decade of Graham’s life.

It is well known that Graham has been a friend and counselor to Presidents. He has counseled every President of the United States, since WWII up through #45, Donald Trump.

Richard Nixon, who served from his election in 1969 until his resignation in 1974, met with and took phone calls from Billy Graham on a regular basis. They were personal friends and had been since before Nixon’s election.

Unbenownst to Graham, Nixon secretly recorded all his phone calls and visits inside the White House, and later, at Camp David, the presidential retreat. The recordings of course included calls to and from Graham.

In 2002, hours of the Nixon tapes were released to the National Archives. In one that was recorded on February 1, 1972, Nixon and Graham can be heard discussing Nixon’s and Graham’s true feelings about the Jews. This conversation was secretly recorded with H.R. Haldeman in attendance, who also kept a diary, (archives here) in which he further reported that Graham said that “the Bible says there are satanic Jews and that’s where our problem arises.”

In the tape under consideration today, February 1, 1972, Nixon is complaining about the Jewish dominated media. In researching Graham’s flip-flops on different theological topics, I’d read one in which great evangelist Graham is quoted as explaining why he chose NOT to evangelize Jews. (as stated in Christian News April 24, 1972, “The Conversion Of The Jews” where Graham said he does not judge the Jews as a people lost to salvation).

Really? So I researched further, googling “Graham evangelize Jews.” What I found was equally disturbing. The Nixon Tapes. I had not been aware of Graham’s recorded conversation revealing his thoughts on what he deemed as a Jewish problem.

Here is the (near) transcript I put together from various quoted articles and also some of the actual tapes. The conversation was held after Graham had led a White House prayer breakfast. The NY Daily News called the conversation “chilling and frightening.” I agree.

Source 1
Source 2 (short)
Source 3 (long)

Graham had said he’d planned a meeting with editors of Time Magazine

Nixon: You meet with their editors, you better take along your Jewish beanie (yarmulke).
Graham: That right? /chuckles/
Nixon then said that media such as Life magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are “totally dominated by the Jews.” Nixon goes on to say that network TV anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite were “front men who may not be of that persuasion,” but that their writers are “95 percent Jewish.”

Graham: This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.
Nixon: You believe that?
Graham: Yes, sir.
Nixon: Oh, boy. So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.
Graham: No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something

Nixon: … not all the Jews are bad, the best Jews are the Israeli Jews
Graham: That’s right … but there’s a powerful bloc of Jews … opposing you in the media.
Graham: And they’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff.

Graham later confides to Nixon how he acts when Jews are around.

Graham: I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.
Nixon: You must not let them know.

Graham’s actions of friendliness to Jews to their face and internal hatred for their control of media and their destruction of the country, in addition to being satanic, is hypocrisy at its worst.

In 1994 when the Haldeman diaries were published and Graham was questioned about Haldeman’s memory of events, Graham said flatly that “those are not my words.”

He lied.

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9).

Imagine, to lead a prayer breakfast so sensitively delivered that Nixon said people were in tears, and then for Graham to turn around and speak about the Jewish controlled media that is ruining this country, and colluding with the President to “do something about it” is venal beyond belief.

They are Graham’s words. In 2002 when the tapes themselves were released, it turned out to be true that Billy Graham had indeed spoken those words. He is either a deeply anti-Semitic man, or pretended to be in order to curry favor with a President and keep his seat at the power table. Either way, it’s gross.

In 2002 when the tapes were released, The Nation magazine sought reaction to Graham’s remarks from some prominent Jews. Here is one:

“He just showed that he was the pious hypocrite that we all knew that he was anyway,” says Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who had served in the Kennedy White House a decade earlier. “Sinclair Lewis wrote about all those fellows in the great Elmer Gantry.”

Schlesinger nailed it when he referred to Elmer Gantry.

Gantry is an incendiary look at hypocrisy from the inside. I don’t know how author Sinclair Lewis did it so expertly, but he showed us the very thought process and the slow hardening of heart of one pastor over a lifetime, who inside his whitewashed tomb was evil, lusty, craven, self-seeking, vainglorious, greedy, and more. Read that book.

Oh! The waffle? It came in a 2002 statement.

Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office conversation with President Nixon. They do not reflect my views, and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks.’ NY Times