Vol. 2 Issue 14 April 7, 2008
The weekly newsletter of True Potential Publishing
Money Part 3
Elaine and I were out all of last week at an â€œequipping the saintsâ€ conference. It wasnâ€™t really named â€œequipping the saints,â€ but you know what I mean. It was a conference for Christians by Christians, with subject matter focused on a particular facet of the faith. This one was about â€œprophecy.â€ Not â€œexhort-your-brotherâ€ prophecy; â€œend-of-the-worldâ€ prophecy.
As a book publisher, Iâ€™m supposed to go to things like this; we were invited, we went and we sold some books. So it worked out.
That was the business side of it. Usually thereâ€™s another reason I go â€¦ one I donâ€™t know about in advance. I find out after I arrive or after itâ€™s over and say, â€œoh, thatâ€™s why I was supposed to go.â€ This trip wasnâ€™t any different; there was an object lesson (or two) waiting for me.
Before I go any further, let me just say for the record â€“ Iâ€™m not the kind of guy who likes to over-spiritualize things. Iâ€™d rather not. The problem is, spiritual stuff keeps happening and the only way I know how to tell you about it is with words that sound kind of â€¦ well â€¦ spiritual.
I donâ€™t like using â€œspiritualâ€ vocabulary when regular vocabulary will do. If Iâ€™m thinking something or read something in the Bible, Iâ€™d rather say, â€œThis is what I think,â€ or â€œI read this in the Bible,â€ than say â€œGod told me.â€
But if God tells me or shows me something or Iâ€™d rather just be honest about it.
One last thing. When God talks to me I donâ€™t hear an audible voice; so you donâ€™t have to worry about that one. I wonder why people always worry about that one? Itâ€™s like if you say God speaks to you and you canâ€™t actually hear His voice, youâ€™re a spiritual guy. But if you do actually hear His voice, youâ€™re a nut.
Some people think itâ€™s a little off to think God speaks to His followers. I think itâ€™s a little off to follow a God who doesnâ€™t speak.
Anyway, back to my trip.
This was a prophecy conference. At prophecy conferences people talk about what hasnâ€™t happened yet, but what they believe will happen based on what they think the Bible says about what will happen, held up to the light of whatâ€™s happening now. Itâ€™s fairly confusing.
Since it hasnâ€™t actually happened yet, not everybody agrees with everybody else. Even the people who agree with each other donâ€™t always agree; it depends on how detailed you want to get about things that havenâ€™t happened yet.
And there are charts. Lots of charts. My favorite chart was an illustrated timeline of every important event from the creation of the world to 2005. As you can imagine, it was a really long chart. What I liked about it was that everything had already happened. That was a chart I could follow. The chart was for sale. I should have bought it. Elaine told me to, but I didnâ€™t. Maybe I can get it at the next conference.
The lesson I was supposed to learn last week wasnâ€™t about prophecy; it was about people.
When I was six I had a poster of the Peanuts character, Snoopy, on my bedroom wall. He was in his classic pose, lying prone on the roof of his dog house. Inside Snoopyâ€™s thought balloon was, â€œI love humanity; itâ€™s people I canâ€™t stand.â€ The saying stuck with me.
Too often, people can be jerks or nuts and their leaders can be self-aggrandizing, self-serving demagogues. Itâ€™s just human nature and, like Snoopy, I shouldnâ€™t be too surprised when I see it.
Iâ€™m especially sensitive to it in the Christian world because weâ€™re supposed to represent just the opposite. Weâ€™re supposed to be light and salt to the world, giving it sight and flavor. Our leaders should be servants; patterned after their leader, God who became man to be our example.
So already you know I have a low tolerance level of human frailty and have my own issues with plank-in-eye disease (see Matthew 7:3).
I show up at a prophecy conference, where everybodyâ€™s focused on lining up things that havenâ€™t happened yet and everybodyâ€™s got their own opinion of what hasnâ€™t happened yet, so I know Iâ€™m not going to agree with at least some of whatâ€™s being said.
I really had mixed feelings about being there â€¦ before I showed up.
After we got there, everything I was worried about evaporated like mist and things I never thought about, like the fact that I might actually enjoy being around these people, began to materialize.
Sure, there were varying opinions floating around about the nuts and bolts of the apocalypse; but that didnâ€™t define the conference. At least not for me.
It was the people, their spirit and their attitude that affected me. It was something that I knew I was a part of; something I wanted to be a part of. The people listened, talked, shared, laughed and prayed together.
Like I said, I donâ€™t like to overuse “church words,” but if I had to name what I saw, â€œfellowshipâ€ would be a good word.
Oh yeah. The leaders led by serving. It was in their attitudes; you could hear it in their words and see it in their actions. Elitism and hierarchy to the greater glory of man didnâ€™t show up at this conference. It was nice.
I know. I know. This weekâ€™s letter is supposed to be about money. Whatâ€™s the prophecy conference got to do with money?
That was one of the nice things. There werenâ€™t any tickets. The conference was free; it has been for fourteen years. They take up some offerings and sell some books and CDâ€™s. They pay for the conference center and cover expenses. Not much more than that.
The hotel gives the guy who runs the conference their presidential suite â€¦ for free. He lets some of the guys whose ministries canâ€™t pay for rooms share the suite and he takes a regular room. He never said anything about it; I heard about it through the grapevine. Nice.
While I was there I saw an ad for another prophecy conference thatâ€™s coming up. Different city different bunch of folks. Tickets are fifty bucks â€¦ unless you want VIP seating, thatâ€™s seventy-five. There are some big names on the marquee at the upcoming conference; real superstars.
I believe Iâ€™ll pass.