From SKSantos – his views on the incoming Thanksgiving and pertinent issues hounding the Church.
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t’s that time of the year again. And now more than ever are the lessons geared towards giving abundantly for the year-end Thanksgiving. Ever since I was a little kid, I have always looked forward with great anticipation the day when I can offer my “pasalamat” that was set aside for that special occasion. It’s always a great feeling when you are about to drop the envelope in the pouch and the holy spirit makes sure that in your heart you feel that that hard earned money is being accepted by God himself and there is no doubt that it will be spent wisely and for it’s SOLE purpose to glorify God. There was clear assurance that the money will be used to build and repair chapels and to help for the primary needs of the ministers and church workers. I think I can speak for the majority that because of that feeling of assurance, that the offerings are being treated as a sacred offering to God and nobody would dare to desecrate it, we are more than happy to give with all our might.
I don’t recall an instance that there are stories of corruption in the ranks of the ministers and church workers. If there were some isolated cases, We would hear that they get disciplined by Ka Erdy himself. I think it was safe to say that the verse below was strictly followed during his time.
Leviticus 22:15 (CSB) The priests must not profane the holy offerings the Israelites give to the Lord
As we all know, if you are being honest, no matter what your stand is – defender, silent majority or thumbmark; there is a great shift of the confidence in giving offerings. Not only in the giving of offerings, but also in how the leadership is running things. We are all witnesses to the express expulsions that is going on right now that was never done before. Citing a generic term for the reason why they are being expelled. Then we will hear the real stories of the expulsions being as petty as liking a post on facebook, raising a sensitive question to a minister or helping / associating yourself with an expelled member.
However these drastic actions are being justified as merely “defending our faith”, to an unbiased audience, these are clearly retaliatory actions meant to silence and scare the brethren. There is no compassion and justice for the expelled members. And for those who still remain, they are bombarded with lessons of full and complete obedience to the leadership and to give every kind of MONETARY offerings or else we won’t be saved. Offerings of praises, prayer and good works and helping others are nowhere in the lessons nowadays as if the only “good work” that God is looking for is to obey the leaders without question and MONETARY offerings.
The verse below suddenly comes to mind:
Matthew 23:23 (ESV)
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Then we hear in lessons and also see on social media the relentless trumpeting of the accomplishments, greatness and world records that the INC achieved because of the dynamic leadership of the people in charge while bashing other religions or institutions for their failures and faults. As if these worldly accomplishments that we are boasting of are a measure used by God to determine one’s worthiness of Him. On the contrary, the verses below which I have not heard read in the worship service in a long time is clearly saying that the humbleness of one’s heart and whole being is the way for forgiveness.
Luke 18:9-14New International Version (NIV)
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We also heard the proclamation of bro Eduardo himself that he has not and will not talk to his siblings or Ka Tenny unless they come to him willing to totally agree on what bro Eduardo wants for them to do.
In the spirit of the upcoming year end thanksgiving that we all consider to be the ultimate day of showing God our gratitude, why don’t we all, including bro Eduardo, heed to the strict instruction of the bible regarding the giving of offerings:
Matthew 5:23–24 (ESV)
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
And while we are in the mood of giving – why don’t we, the INC as a whole, honestly give to the real people in need. To the hungry and the poor, the homeless and the unfortunate. Without broadcasting to the world that we did something nice or giving something in exchange like them attending one of our bible expositions. The needy or the poor are not the ministers and their families, they are already provided for by the offerings in the church. Most of them even enjoy material things that a lot of brethren cannot afford. Actually they should be leading a life of lowliness and humbleness like the Lord Christ and should not be seen enjoying worldly materials.I urge us all, including the leadership of the church, to contemplate on the verses below:
12 He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back.13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; 14 and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”
1 Be careful that you don’t do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.2 Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don’t sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
What is really important to God when it comes to worshipping Him? Is it the physical or worldly stature of the place of worship? Does God look down from heaven and when he sees us praying inside a huge ultra-expensive dome he is compelled to grant us everything we ask for in our prayers including killing those who do not agree with us?
“The woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship. Jesus said to her, Woman believe me that an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . .. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”
We also are very aware of this event when Christ became so mad because the temple is being used for commerce like what the leadership is doing now.
“Then the crowds spread out their robes along the road ahead of him, and as they reached the place where the road started down from the Mount of Olives, the whole procession began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles Jesus had done. ‘God has given us a King!’ they exulted. ‘Long live the King! Let all heaven rejoice! Glory to God in the highest heavens!’ But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, ‘Sir, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!’ He replied, ‘If they keep quiet, the stones along the road will burst into cheers!’ But as they came closer to Jerusalem and he saw the city ahead, he began to cry. ‘Eternal peace was within your reach and you turned it down,’ he wept, ‘and now it is too late. Your enemies will pile up earth against your walls and encircle you and close in on you, and crush you to the ground, and your children within you; your enemies will not leave one stone upon another- for you have rejected the opportunity God offered you.’ Then he entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants from their stalls, saying to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, My Temple is a place of prayer; but you have turned it into a den of thieves’” (Lk.19:36-46)
Although Jesus understood that the heavenly Father was merciful, he also understood the heart of the vast majority of the Jews and their leadership and that they would not repent of their evil ways. This is one of the reasons he wept over Jerusalem as he foretold its destruction.
There is an undeniable parallelism in what is happening to the church today. The pure worship of God has been blemished by the desire of the leadership to run the church as a business entity. I believe that I don’t need to justify that statement anymore because the signs and proof and most importantly, the spirit of it is all around us.
And I guess the root of all of this is money. Tons of it. Maybe in the face of it, the evil that comes with money is just too much to defeat. I guess no one can resist that much of a temptation… well except for ka Felix and ka Erdy.
We all know that it’s not God who need the money gathered in the offerings. It’s us. It’s only for our benefit. So that we will be comfortable and organized in our worship services. He does not care about the money. He cares about our hearts and our intentions in serving him. The proof of that is that the Lord Christ himself worshipped God in places that he deemed peaceful and quiet enough so he can pray and worship God. That’s usually in the hills and mountains. And we all know that all of his worship to God was deemed worthy.
Money is not the important thing in worshipping God!
But what if God challenges all the ministers and church leaders in order to prove that they really love serving God, that they have to give up their “tulong”? no more monetary benefits to be given to them. That they have to actually get a job to provide for their family like all of us do. The officers who spend their precious time and money do not receive any monetary gain. They actually need money to support their office in the church. Why not the ministers do the same including the Sanggunian? Including the executive minister. Will they still perform their duty if they don’t get money in return? The church officers do. Why not them? Their office is supposedly higher than the lowly diakono or diakonesa. Can they make the same sacrifice that the church officers do to prove that they truly love serving God? Or are they all going to quit their ministry if they are not going to get paid?
Maybe let’s try this for the next 10 years. That for all the ministers especially the leaders to give up all their earthly possessions for the benefit of the church and use the proceeds to buy and fix chapels as needed. Then they have to perform their ministry as volunteers and they do not get any tulong. They have to find work, go through the daily stress of providing for their family like normal people do, and still have the energy and especially the faith to perform their duties like church officers do right now.
That I think will be a great step forward in fixing the distrust in the church right now. After 10 years they can have their tulong and church provided cars back. Unless they go corrupt again.
Ka Eduardo, please talk to Ka Angel, Ka Mark and Ka Lottie. And especially please talk to ka Tenny. You are our leader and we respect you. But please, lead us by example like what Ka Erdy did. And for the sake of restoring peace inside the church, put all the ministers that are being accused of corruption on administrative leave until they are proven to be clean and worthy of handling the church offerings.
- SKSantos ( Author)