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It was the middle of the night and I could not go to sleep. I looked at the clock and it said 2:37 AM. I tossed and turned but nothing seemed to work. The Sandman, usually a faithful worker at our house, was nowhere to be found. I read somewhere that if you cannot go to sleep in the middle of the night, get up go out and watched a little TV and soon you will get sleepy. I am not sure who wrote that and I am not even sure if I actually read it or if it was some delusion of my mind at the time.
Nevertheless, I decided to get out of bed and go watch a little television. I was half-asleep but the problem was the wrong half of me was asleep. My left leg was asleep but my eyes were on first alert.
Actually, my eyes were open but my brain was unaware of what was going on around me. I know I have three functioning brain cells... but they never function at the same time. I think it has something to do with the Grey Cells Union who only allows brain cells to work in shifts. This is all right, because my brain is rather shifty.
I was not up to do some heavy work; rather I was up to cultivate sleep. To help me do this I turned on the television and began Channel Surfing, which is about as vigorous an exercise as I get at 2:37 in the morning. Not paying too much attention as to what was on, I hit upon what I thought was a nature program. I heard somebody in a fancy suit and a smile say, “Send us your best seed.”
I began looking around for a packet of pumpkin seed I knew we had not used yet. Oh, I had planned to plant those pumpkin seeds but I never really got around to it as of yet. They were my prize package of pumpkin seeds. However, being in a state of mind that I was in, I was willing to give it up and send it to somebody who really needed my seed.
Then it dawned on me. The seed they wanted had “In God we trust,” inscribed on it. They were not looking for packets of seed to plant in what used to be called a “Victory Garden,” for the benefit of the community.
I soon realized I was watching one of those religious HSN Wannabe programs. Of course, the big difference is I do not get anything in return like I do with the HSN programs. Yet I stand corrected. This religious HSN Wannabe program had promised me something the HSN could never promise.
Right before me, in living color, was one of those Tele-panhandlelist working his television audience, of which I was a part of at the time. This Tele-Panhandlelist looked at me right through the camera - he gave me the willies (thankfully it was not a wet Willy) - and said, “Send in your best seed-faith offering.” [Does anybody have change for a nickel?]
He said if I did not have the money right now, I could use my credit card. Then he said something that really mystified me. Obviously, the lateness of the night and my alert-challenged brain was not hearing right. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage often accuses me of not hearing what she is saying. Maybe that is so. I do not know.
But this is what that Tele-panhandlelist said. “I guarantee,” he said with a suspicious air of Pharisee arrogance, “a 100-fold return on your seed faith.”
I want this in writing! Not even Bernie Madoff could do that.
Whoever has eyes for my money better not blink. They better be prepared to turn the other cheek.
OK, I’m a cynic. When anyone, especially a preacher, says something that cannot be substantiated by the entire Bible, I do not believe them. I have read my Bible at least 100 times. I spend a portion of every day reading and studying the Bible. I do not claim to know everything there is to know about the Bible, I’m still a student.
But I know this; anybody can prove anything by isolating one or two verses from the Bible. I have always worked under the assumption that when you separate a Bible verse from its context you end up with a pretext. This is the way the radicals and extremists use the Bible to prove their point.
The thing that bothers me about these Tele-panhandlelists is that what they teach does not work for them. If it really did, they would never ask for money from me but rather sow their seed in my direction.
But their ruse is, they need this money for God’s work. I fully understand that to do any kind of ministry involves a budget. However, here is what I think. If God needs what I have, he does not have anything I need.
I think the apostle Paul modeled the heart of Jesus when he wrote, “I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 KJV).
I do not want anybody interfering with my blessing that comes from giving.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.