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Things that make you go hmm...

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Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

Help! Attacks against the ministry!
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Wow, how many times have you heard that? From how many different ministries? They love to quote scriptures such as:

"HaSatan, as a lion, roars and walks about and seeks whom he may swallow." (1Kefa[Peter] 5:8)
"Be vigilant and mindful… Therefore, stand against him while being steadfast in trust…" (1Kefa[Peter] 5:8, 9)
"give no place to HaSatan" (Eph. 4:27)
With YHWH at our right hand, we shall not be moved (Ps. 16:8)

This is my response to such claims of attack:

"We have a great responsibility, a mutual responsibility, to make ourselves better, to make our neighbors better, to improve our community and our country, to make our world a better place. We cannot be silent - we must be our brother's keeper. For we reap not o­nly what we sow, but also what our brother sows. But still, my life is my own, and when my survival is at stake, I alone must make the decision."
Aryeh Kaplan (Faces and Facets)

They imply that the attacks against them are from HaSatan. In doing this they imply that those who are attacking them are messengers of HaSatan. They equate them with "demons" or "shadim".

But are they? Many of these ministries have brought the attacks on themselves by their own behaviour. How many television ministries have ended bacause the "minister" went to prison due to "Conversion of funds", or the "pastor" had an affair?

Are these ministries not subject to reprimand for their behaviour? They indicate by the last verse quoted that they do not intend to change the path that they are on. THey see nothing wrong with the way they run their personal ministry, with the way they conduct the business of ministry, or with the way they conduct themselves with other individuals and ministries.

It is a very "elitist" approach to ministry and life. Certainly not the humble servant role that we would like to see from those who have found themselves in a position of leader ship.

I have been in a leadership role for many years. Have I been attacked? Well, of course.  Even now I am under attack in ministry, in fellowship, in finances. But then who in our faith isn't? If I wasn't under some form of attack, I might wonder if I was on the right path.

I know some in the movement that are living with their children in campers and old mobile homes, because they can afford nothing else. I know one couple who are living, currently, in a tent. Some of these people have lost their children to CPS because they cannot provide adequate housing. Some because they won't.

Yet those ministries who seem to cry the most are the ones with large screen televisions, tv's in every room for their children, DVR's on every receiver, and take monthly outings to a hotel - just to relax.

Currently, due to circumstances beyond my control, my own mortgage is in arrears, and I am trying to negotiate with my own mortgage holder to restructure my loan. I may be too late and may lose my own home - with 8 children in the house and a disabled man with his wife. But, I am not asking the community to "bail me out". No, I only ask for prayer - so that the work of my hands is blessed and that I am lifted up in my employer's eyes so that my income is increased without burdening the community.

These ministries that cry out so much, do they not realize that their pleas for aid fall on the ears of widows and the elderly? People who can barely afford a small apartment and food for a single meal each day. People who will for go that meal and send in a few dollars. Others who are more"financially stable" will send more, sometimes thousands of dollars.

Most of these ministries do not report their donations publically. There is no public accounting of how the money is spent or how much came in. For all we know they are bringing in several thousand dollars more than they needed, and are eating pizza, chinese carry out, steak dinners and soda on a daily basis, buying make up and jewlery. And who knows what else!

Now, how a person spends their own money is their own business, for the most part. But when income is derived from charitable sources, it's use needs to be declared and validated. If all the money that comes in is to be declared as income to the minister/leader/pastor/rabbi, then it needs to be publicly stated as such.

Without a public accounting of donated revenue, the poor in the community will give the last of their income to a ministry that they believe is starving.  Without a knowledge of the persons in the ministry and their actual financial situation, the giver has no way of determining true need.  It is even likely that the giver may need the funds more than the givee

I used to be part of a large "world wide" church many years ago. They enforced tithing on they patrons. 10% of gross, and the local ministers would even audit tax returns to ensure the patrons were giving the proper 10%. Church leadership, though, were living in mansions in California, riding in Limosines and private jets. Yet that church constantly cried about how they were under attack and needed more income.

I left that organization in my youth. Although, at the time, they kept the Shabbat, the Holydays, Clean food laws, and most of the rest of Torah, they were not ethical in their handling of contributions. They held a Nicolaiton aproach to ministry structore. A very hardline pecking order existed in leadership. The leadership excommunicated and shunned any who questioned their actions.

If a man has beheld evil, he may know that it was shown to him in order that he learn his own guilt and repent; for what is shown to him is also within him.
-- Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, eighteenth century founder of Hasidism

Unfortunately, I see that ministries I have been recently associated with have taken on similar views and practice regarding leadership hierarchy. A top down approach. Removing the humility which should be inherent to religious leadership. A leadership with no empathy for their supporters. A leadership which will attack without shame those that attempt to help them actually stay the course of righteousness. Leadership which will do shameful things behind closed doors, thinking they will never be found out.

There is a basic law for believers that these leaders have forgotten, or choose to ignore: There are no hidden sins". Their sins will be exposed: their greed, their lust, theft, lies, etc.

There is a talmudic passage that reads as follows:

When a person studies Bible and Mishnah . . . but is dishonest in business, and does not speak gently with people, what do people say of him? ‘Woe unto him who studies Torah. . . . This man studied Torah; look how corrupt are his deeds, how ugly his ways.’"
Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 86a

Many of these leaders try to blame their current situation on those who they portray as their attackers:

"Blaming others, or outside conditions for one's own mis-behavior may be the child's priveledge; If an adult denies responsibility for his own actions, it is another step closer to personal disintigration."
Bruno Bettelheim

I have found more and more that those "attackers" are certainly exposing error, and sometimes to their own shame. I have heard statements from some that do not indicate that they are seeking the repentance of the sinful leader, but would rather see them drown in their own guilt, punished to maximum available. This is also not a good approach:

"Let man always strive to be one of the persecuted rather than one of the persecutors."
Babylonian Talmud, baba kamma 93a

"Let man contemplate that all snow begins pure white and turns to slush, and he too, with all his beauty, will change into a small heap of corrupted matter."
Sefer Hasidim (Book of the Pious), Paragraph 305

The leaders though will try to say that they are Torah Observant believers in Messiah, that this perceived "persecution" is Lashon HaRa [Evil Speach].  But this is simply not true.  Most of those that would call a leader on the carpet for their actions do so because they are seeking repentance, a change, a turning in the way.

In fact, as leaders in a community of Torah Observant believers in Messiah, it is more likely that we would be held to the highest of ethical standards. That our private and public lives would be under the highest scrutiny. To say that we should not be persecuted because we believe we are righteous, or because we are teaching other to be righteous, is ridiculous.

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegitarian."
Rabbi Harold Kushner, paraphrasing Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan (1881-1983) In When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough, p. 91

But one of my greatest concerns for these individual is for what happens next, especially when their crys are not true:

"Our rabbis taught: If a man pretends to have a blind eye, a swollen belly, or a shrunken leg, he will not leave this world before actually coming into such a condition. One who accepts charity and is not in need of it, his end will be that he will not leave this world before he comes into such a condition."
Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 62a

Also for those that continue to join with them:

"Once the Angel (of Destruction) is permitted to begin his work[lit. "to harm"], he does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked."
Mekhilta (Lauterbach, Vol. 1 p. 85)

Then is created an ethical dilema:  We know the sins of the person in question.  We know the lies they have perpetrated.  We know they are unrepentant.  We see they are now coming into the condition which they had previously intended to be in.  How do we pray for them?  Do we provide aid?  If we provide aid, are we interfering in Elohim's work to get their attention and bring true repentance?

These leaders - be they rabbim, or pastors, or ministers, or others - who will not repent, will be judged. Those righteous men who have worked with them are adminished to stand clear, lest they get caught up the coming destruction.

Jeremiah tells us to "get out of Babylon, be not partakers of her sins". Those ministries that do not keep the Torah they teach, that fleace the flock, and behave in unethical manners in business, ministry, on boards, in community, and personal relationships are part of Babylon.  They are bound for destruction.  They cannot succeed in their efforts, because they are corrupt.  Their ONLY hope of success in this world, or more importantly the Olam HaBa [world to come] , is to repent.  Repent before judgement is poured out. Once the flaming hail is falling, it is too late.