Billy Graham – An Example of True Evangelism – Senator Grassley’s Not Interested in His Ministries!

February 14, 2008

Recovering from surgery, Billy Graham noted evangelist, is listed in fair condition following successful surgery on Wednesday to update a shunt that controls excess fluid to his brain.

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Graham, age 89, has been an example of Christianity and true evangelism for my entire life. Recalling at a young age the Billy Graham Crusades that were televised around the world, Billy Graham had a clear and consistent message that has not wavered. Unlike those whose ministry has been called to task by Senator Charles Grassley, Graham has stayed focused on his role.

In an article from Time Magazine the following was stated:

Under a blazing North Carolina sun, faith and power renewed their vows, as three former commanders in chief — Jimmy Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton — convened in Charlotte, N.C., to pay tribute to a man they all love.

The occasion was the dedication of the Billy Graham library, modeled after the dairy farm where the evangelist grew up, with an immense cross as its doorway and an exhibit designed to soak visitors in the gospel message that Graham had preached to more people than any man who’s ever lived.

Preached to more than any man who ever lived. What an amazing accomplishment. Graham obviously took to heart the mandate – Go and preach the Gospel! By Graham has done with without lavish and fanfare. God provided for Graham, but Graham never needed a Bentley or Cessna Citation to accomplish the mission at hand.

The time article goes on to say:

If Graham’s spiritual message was always consistent, a message of gospel love and Jesus’s saving grace, his political message changed profoundly. There had been a time where he didn’t hesitate to speak out on the issues of the day, on foreign policy, the economy, court decisions. But he had come to see the cost of discussing the issues that divide people.
Jerry Falwell’s death brought many reminders of what happens when preachers take sides; long ago, Graham had decided to go down a different road. He had gotten way too deeply involved in his friends’ campaigns, and he resolved to try and stop diving in. Ten days before his good friend Ronald Reagan was sworn in, Graham told Parade Magazine that “evangelicals can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle, to preach to all the people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will in the future.”

Today Graham recovers as he enters the twilight years of his earthly life.

Graham, 89, was hospitalized at Mission for nearly two weeks last year after experiencing intestinal bleeding caused by an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of small blood vessels in the lining of the colon. He also has suffered from prostate cancer and macular degeneration.

His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died in June following a lengthy illness.

Wonder what the ministries of Kenneth Copeland, Eddie Long, Creeflo Dollar, Benny Hinn and others think – when they look at what they have done in comparison to Billy Graham’s ministries. The humility and wisdom that Graham has shown is a remarkable accomplishment. The lives he has touched with a ministry, largely untouched with significant controversy, is amazing.

Perhaps others can still learn from the Graham legacy.


Senator Grassley To Ministries – You Better Cooperate! Additional Information Sought from Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Others

January 29, 2008

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When the Senator from Iowa asks for information over which he has authority – well, let’s put it this way, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and in this case – Grassley is Caesar when it comes to the taxing authority of the government.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is preparing another round of letters to Christian television ministries, prodding them to answer questions about their spending and the way they are governed, a spokeswoman said back in mid-January.

Jill Gerber, Grassley’s finance committee spokeswoman, said the the follow-up letters would go out in the next few weeks to ministries that have raised concerns or not responded. Gerber said the letters will describe Congress’ authority and duty to investigate and evaluate laws over which it has legislative authority—in this case, tax-exempt policy.

“Customarily, people come to recognize the wisdom of responding to requests by senior members of the Finance Committee, and particularly by Sen. Grassley, before a subpoena becomes necessary,” she said.

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the finance committee chairman, has not commented publicly on Grassley’s investigation. But Carol Guthrie, communications director for the committee’s Democratic staff, said this week Baucus is aware of the investigation, and suggested that the ministries ought to cooperate.

Gaining support of the Democratic chairman would not only give the investigation added heft, it would deflect criticism like that of Dollar, the most outspoken critic among the ministers under scrutiny.

So what’s next: Well, it appears that the next move is in the hands of the ministries in question. It seems that some want to fight, like Creflo Dollar. Dollar commented on the Fox Business Network that he felt is was Grassley, and not the committee, who was pushing the investigation.

Considering the comment from the Democratic Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus, it would appear that Creflo needs to rethink his position. One doesn’t want to get into a power play with the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Right now, I don’t think politics are on the side of any of the ministers or their ministries. Thus far the only ministry that has taken the high road (and who I feel will be rewarded for her position) is the Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries. Smart move on her part.

Otherwise, it is reported that Kenneth Copeland ministries is willing to cooperate, but to what extent is not clear. Neither has there been much word from Benny Hinn and his ministries. Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar have both taken a public fighting stand – an unwise move in my opinion.

My guess, as this is written, is that Grassley has signaled, much like Bush before the Iraq war, his intention giving the uncooperative ministries another chance to comply. Lack of compliance by the end of January will result in further investigation and an outcome that many of these folk don’t really want.

I could be wrong, but it seems like the writing is on the wall. What Creflo and Eddie don’t want is Senator Grassley’s version of “Shock and Awe!”

You thoughts?

Business Ethics Speaker, Chuck Gallagher, signing off…


Not Now Senator Grassley…Not Now! Hinn Delays Response. Business Ethics Speaker Gallagher Reviews

December 7, 2007

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Several months ago Senator Charles Grassley, R Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent questionnaires to six ministries asking numerous financial questions – probing whether the pastors and their ministries were complying with IRS rules related to their tax exempt work.

The deadline was today and it appears that Binny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine (Grapevine, TX) and Benny Hinn World Healing Center Church, Inc. have stated that they will not respond to Grassley’s inquiry until next year (2008).

According to the Associated Press:

“A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents.”

“Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley.”

Several questions have been raised by both sides. Many of the ministries through their spokes persons have taken the position that they comply with the law and the IRS is the watchdog. Hence, they feel that Grassley has overstepped his bounds by making such a broad request.

Again, according to the Associated Press in a report in the Dallas Morning News:

“Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he “can’t be impressed” by the argument from some of the preachers that the IRS already monitors them, because his past inquiries have unearthed information that the IRS never knew.

Grassley has insisted his investigation “has nothing to do with church doctrine” and is strictly concerned with making sure nonprofit groups are following the law.”

Some of the ministries have suggested that Grassley get a subpoena if he plans on capturing the information he’s requested. Should the ministries refuse to turn over the information, a very interesting court fight could ensue.

“Hopefully these organizations will work with us,” said Grassley, who has been investigating nonprofit compliance with IRS rules for years. “I don’t think I’ve had to issue a single subpoena in the five years that I’ve been trying to get cooperation from organizations.”

So here are the questions and your comments are welcome:

  • What does not complying to Grassley’s request mean to the ministries?
  • If one believed that they were fully compliant, would it be best to turn over the records or stand on principle (perhaps the belief that Grassley over reached)?
  • Since the IRS rules provide that a tax-exempt organization cannot be a conduit for excessive personal gain, is it possible to define that in a highly successful ministry?

For the record, the ministries targeted by Grassley’s requests were, in addition to Hinn: Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, GA; Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, FL; Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, MO; Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in Atlanta, GA; and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, TX.

Every choice has a consequence. In fact, in Galatians it states, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” As this unfolds the truth will be revealed…whatever that truth may be.

Comments?


Benny Hinn – Ethics, Choices and Consequences – A Senate Inquiry

November 14, 2007

An investigation into possible misuse of donations has been launched against 6 nationally known ministries by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finances – Senator Chuck Grassley R-Iowa.

TOB.com reports: Grassley, former chairman of the finance committee, said his requests for information came in response to complaints from the public and news coverage about practices at the six ministries. The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances for church leaders, and amenities such as private jets and Rolls-Royces.

“I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and taxpayers to find out more,” he wrote. “People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”

The specific request made to the World Healing Center Church, Inc. is found here: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507hinn.pdf

A good friend of mine said recently, “When you search for something, you’ll find something!” Grassley is searching – make no mistake. Knowing nothing about the ministry (and admitting that openly), I would easily bet that World Healing Center Church and Benny Hinn Ministries employs teams of attorneys and accountants to make sure that the tax positions they take are squeaky clean. The issue for the government is tax revenue and tax exempt status. If the tax exempt status can be revoked or some of the income recharacterized, then more tax money for the government.

Keep in mind, however, Every Choice Has A Consequence! As a national speaker – having served time in Federal Prison for my choices, I know first hand the relationship between your choices and the consequences that follow. However, here the choices and consequences might be mostly perception. What do you think?

Compare Benny Hinn Ministries to Billy Grahams Ministries and while both are extremely successful, the Hinn Ministries are targeted due to the more opulent lifestyle of the ministry head – Benny Hinn. There would be no doubt that Billy Graham Ministries is a well funded ministry, but Billy Graham chooses to live a more reserved lifestyle. I doubt he suffers for any need, but few would call his lifestyle lavish.

Should churches and ministries have to answer the governments questions? Would less flamboyance yield less government attention? Is Grassley overusing his power as the ranking member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee? Or, has Benny Hinn Ministries overstepped their tax-exempt bounds?

Your thoughts?

More to come…and your comments are welcome!


Ministry Accountability – What Do Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Eddie Long Have In Common?

November 13, 2007

In an age of increased corporate accountability under the Sarbanes-Oxley rules, it seems that Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the p0werful Senate Finance Committee, is seeking detailed information from six major ministries concerning the application and use of their members contributions.

From his news release on November 6th the following is stated: “Grassley has reviewed a wide range of non-profit issues over the last five years, first as Finance Committee chairman and now as ranking member. The committee has exclusive Senate jurisdiction over federal tax policy, including the policy governing the billions of dollars donated to and controlled by the nation’s tax-exempt groups.”

He goes further to say, “I’m following up on complaints from the public and news coverage regarding certain practices at six ministries,” Grassley said. “The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces. I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”

What do you think about Senator Grassley’s request? Do you feel that prosperity enjoyed by church leaders is unethical? Should the Government be involved in the affairs of the Church? Are these individuals being singled out or is there a broader issue at play?

Every choice has a consequence. Is it possible that opulent prosperity can go too far?

To read the news release see: http://www.senate.gov/~finance/press/Gpress/2007/prg110607.pdf

What do you think?