I took some time last Friday night, October 12, 2007, to watch T. D. Jakes being hosted by John Hagee at Cornerstone Church. While introducing the well-known preacher, Hagee went to great lengths to boast about how Jakes was the author of several books and had recently signed a moviemaking deal with Sony Pictures. Upon stating these facts, I thought to myself, “is all of this really important? So what? He got a movie contract. Big deal!” Why waste time on earthly stuff that doesn’t matter when all we need to know is whether or not he preaches the gospel and what church he is from?
Then when Jakes took the podium to speak, he opened up with how blessed the people would be if they bought his latest book on sale in the church lobby. He went on to explain that they really needed to get his life-changing book before leaving the church that night. I thought to myself “Why does he think he should promote himself or his book when his focus should be on his message?” A lot of us church folk have libraries full of the latest Christian titles and our lives are still messed up because we read everything except God’s word. If we get around to reading God’s word, sometimes our hearts are so hardened that we fail to put it into practice. “…of making many books there is no end;” (Ecclesiastes 12:12)
He finally got around to his sermon, which had a very good message. Titled “Peter’s last night on the boat,” Jakes’ message basically dealt with how when hard times and setbacks come into our lives in the midst of our ministry, we have a tendency to revert back to habits that are familiar and comfortable to us. Peter went back to fishing after Christ was crucified. Instead of going back to what we used to do we should wait for God’s direction and continue moving forward. Jakes gave some real world examples making his sermon all the more relevant.
At the end came the altar call. Of course, by this time emotions were high. The underlying statement for the altar call was “You need to get up to this altar right now so God can change your life!” Last time I checked, God can work on a person’s heart no matter where their body is. The Lord is not confined to the altar since he’s omnipresent and omnipotent. He can change a person right in their seat if they cry out to him. “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)
Not only that, but anyone who is right with God can pray with a person who needs it. They don’t necessarily need the person standing at the altar to do it. An usher standing nearby can do it! As if emotions weren’t high enough, he manipulated them even more after people flooded to the front. Jakes said something like “If you still haven’t come and God is telling you to come down, you have 60 seconds to get out of your seat and come down this aisle!” Then he proceeded to count down the seconds as if God’s mercy and grace were going to run out if they didn’t hightail it down the aisle in time.
Such manipulations are completely unnecessary. The Holy Spirit can do what he needs to do without anyone trying to control another person’s emotions. I guess I’m somewhat jaded because I’ve fallen prey to these types of routines so many times in the past.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–