christian materials on: missions, revival, evangelism, witnessing, prophecy,
eschatology, giving, Holy Spirit, christian education, church/biblical history,
biblical study tools/materials, healing, leadership, youth materials, marriage
or christian family, tapes, CDs, DVDs, audio visuals, cassettes, worship
Cds,magazines, men's materials, children's materials, sunday school materials,
church planting, church growth, research and study materials ...
... the list goes on and on for another 6 or 8 lines, but you get the picture.
Usually the emails also include earnest requests for our prayers (our brothers and sisters overseas often are much better at recognizing the necessity of going before the throne of grace). Again, I quote:
PRAYER REQUEST: Please remember me always in your prayers. Pray for me for a most friutful, productive,and successful ministry. I want to sponsor the gospel
and send books to people as you do. Ask God to lead me to express road to riches
and wealth to the glory of God.
WHOA ... what was that? "The express road to riches and wealth to the glory of God"??? Later, he mentions it again: "Pray for me for more anointing for healing, miracles signs and wonders, giving, holiness, righteosness, godliness, Holy Ghost, revival, soulwinning, ministry, riches, wealth, prosperity, success, favour, blessings, breakthroughs, open doors and excellence."
What kind of gospel has been preached to this man (which he, in turn, is preaching to others)? To our shame, it is a "gospel" that perhaps originated with missionaries who arrived on Africa's fair shores with shipping containers intended to "open doors." Or perhaps it originated with any number of American TV-preachers (no longer confined to women with purple hair and men with well-arranged toupees sitting on pink velour couches) who make promises on God's behalf ... promises that God often has no intention of fulfilling because, though made in His name, they were not for His name's sake.
To my shame, I'm not always offering the true Gospel to people either. I've heard it said that "what you believe saves you is what you will offer to others." It's convicting: my default is to offer people knowledge, or to want to do something for them, rather than to offer them the Living Savior. These are no more salvific than the express road to riches and wealth.
I'm usually a little bit more nuanced than asking people to pray that God will put me on the express road to riches and wealth (to the glory of God!), but I also realize that I still have subtle ways of making God my vending machine. I struggle to not put my trust in riches and wealth, or people, positions, education, etc., and to remember that God's is a Kingdom that is not of this world (hence, no need for accumulating riches and wealth, whether quickly or slowly).
I don't have a profound way to draw this together and end the post, so here it is: THE END. (maybe if you read this in a few hours, profundity will have struck.) And a postscript: I've recently been revisiting an excellent article by David Powlison on prayer: "Praying Beyond Health Concerns."