Thoughts To Consider As We Dare God To Punish Us


Years ago, I was asked to appear on a show at Trinity Broadcasting Network, that mega-religious network — the largest by far in the world — owned by Paul and Jan Crouch (Paul now deceased). This is an operation that was co-founded with Jim and Tammy Baker. I was amazed they invited me — to speak about my book, The Final Hour, and the Virgin Mary. I still don’t know why that happened (most of their audience is hardly in favor of Marian devotion). Anyway, they sent a limo over to the luxury hotel they had me staying at in Dallas, and I rode to the studio with a fellow named John Hagee who I had never heard of but certainly have since. That was in 1995. I remember about ten minutes into the car ride as we exited the highway in Irving asking the driver what the gorgeous large mansion to our right was. It resembled the White House. That, he informed me, was exactly where we were going: the TBN studio. It was even more impressive inside: plush imported rugs, expensive paintings, exquisite veneer at every turn, just plush; I was told that Paul’s office upstairs was an exact replica of the Oval Office (and probably just as expensive). I couldn’t believe how awash the place was in money. Spreads of foods. Constant service. And the production area itself: I had been on shows like Nightline and Today and Phil Donahue and MacNeil Lehrer, but this place — this studio — looked, from what I could tell, to be the largest, most modern, and most sophisticated I’d encountered — more so than any major urban station (even in New York) and even the national networks (which were far bigger back then, in the days of just NBC, CBS, and ABC, and before the internet and cable). More impressive still: this was only one of TBN’s U.S. studios. They had other large operations in California, New York, Tennessee, Miami, Alabama, Georgia, Orlando, and Oklahoma (not to mention buildings they owned around the world, in places like London and Jerusalem and even Russia). They are seen on 18,000 television and cable affiliates, via seventy satellites. We Catholics don’t have anything even close.

I still appreciate their having me (for a brief little interview, but nonetheless: a Catholic topic), but I must say, to read about the transpirings with this and other “evangelical” ministries since can be bracing. TBN made the news recently when some of the Crouches’ relatives, involved in a lawsuit, were accused of trying to divert a hundred million marked for charity to their own accounts and threatening the whistle-blowing cousin, allegedly including (underscore the word “allegedly”) with a gun. That wasn’t Paul and Jan, but relatives under them. Nonetheless, the topic here is mammon, and I remember accounts of how the Crouches had “his” and “her” mansions, and how, when in Orlando (to tend to a Christian amusement park they’d bought), they not only stayed (for weeks) in the best hotel mega-money could buy but also had a room for the dog (and from what I recall, also an RV for the canine; one of their estates, left).


These are good people and we all have our faults but how the devil can blind us.

Other “mega-preachers”?

The homes pictured here are some belonging to name televangelists such as T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyers.

Image result for osteen home crouch jakesI have been impressed, many times, at how they preach (which often seems inspired, especially in the case of the highly-talented Osteen, who seems like a nice guy), but overall: something is certainly amuck. Living in splendor while preaching the word of a pauper named Jesus — a Man Who told the rich man to sell it all, if he wanted to follow Him, a Man born in a manger?

We hate being critical, and hardly revile any of these folks; deep down, they no doubt have good intentions and kind hearts. It started out sincerely. A lot of it is most likely still sincere. They love God. We are all Christians. But to face facts: it is illogical — mega-preaching and mega-wealth; a deception from the Prince of this world (and the one who tempted Jesus, promising Him all the riches and power of the world, on the desert). That’s what the devil is about: he has the ability to “bless” folks — whether oil tycoons or ministers — with mammon and all the houses you care to build and jets to purchase. We all have to make a living. We all have to charge for certain services (especially when there is no advertising). We are all subject to deception. Those in full-time ministry need a source for sustenance.

But using it and often donations for limos and private jets and mansions? We have some bishops who live in style (something Pope Francis seeks to correct), but nothing like these folks. The Pope sleeps in what amounts to a dormitory. The Vatican and all that art? The Vatican keeps it for humanity, not for its own wealth; it is “priceless” precisely because it can not be sold; while some criticize the Vatican for its souvenir shops, it has to maintain that museum; its endowment is vastly less than that of an institution like Harvard University, and Vatican City’s annual operating budget is about $300 million — not much more than TBN’s $197 million budget one recent year and way lower than the $1.2 billion operating budget of a university like Notre Dame.

The mega-preachers are but one example of modern excess as we head for purification.

A 90-year-old Protestant woman in Norway was said to have had a vision during 1968 in which she supposedly was told that “the important thing will be to have success, to be something; to have material things, things that God never promised us in this way. Churches and prayer houses will be emptier and emptier. Instead of the preaching we have been used to for generations—like, to take your cross up and follow Jesus—entertainment, art, and culture will invade the churches where there should have been gatherings for repentance and revival. This will increase markedly just before the return of Jesus.”

Such is our time, as the veil lifts and we start to see what is really behind many aspects of public life. At least the preachers are working for God. Far worse, of course, is what goes on in the entertainment industry. To scan articles in the wake of a Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards takes us even more directly into the deception. At the Grammy Awards the other night, the singer “Madonna” traipsed to the stage virtually naked and then held court as several men dressed in leather-black with horns paid her homage. It was a snapshot of the netherworld. We saw the news accounts of it. There were also those in the audience donning horns or flashing the two-finger devil’s salute as a band called AC/DC (long famous for its satanic rock) sang its signature hit song, “Highway to Hell.”

True that is — but a super-highway.

Want an example of Christianity? There is another mega-preacher named Rick Warren who wrote one of the bestselling books in history (The Purpose Driven Life) but only kept from it what he needed to sustain himself and his family. Translation: he gave the excess money away. (Recently, he urged his followers to unite in spirit with the Pope, who he met recently.)

Our time! We are suddenly seeing many things. We are seeing what is “backstage.” The evil one is showing his shameful face. Let’s get off the topic of mega-preachers. We are seeing what is beyond certain masquerades — from respected news anchors caught fabricating stories (in truly startling fashion; though we should not ridicule) to sports stars arrested for assault or rape (or homicide).

I believe that when a majority of people in an area are headed for hell (and I’m certainly not saying who that is; no one but God can judge), that area will see chastisement. (There but for the Grace of God…) We are all sinners. Let us pray for self-illumination of conscience.

But what exorcists call the “pretense” is lifting.

Fifty shades of “gray,” in this modern “society” of ours — or fifty shades of (raw) evil?

The symbol for this movie (a gray tie) looks more like the scales of a reptile.

Excuse the fervor, but times quicken. The blind get blinder while the veil lifts for those who fast and pray (and love; seeking humility; let this be our goal for Lent). Hopefully, that is not spiritual haughtiness. It is exasperation. The veil lifts. One goes back to an alleged word of knowledge we have quoted before from 2010.

“For these times, you have the Rosary, and even more so, praise,” it intoned. “In union with God comes all protection, as the dark spirits are now allowed to materialize in full due to the pretense and aspirations of man. “Not until the initial event will the curtain be drawn that reveals the entirety of the plan, and even then, it will be parted only slowly, in the woes of purification.”

— Michael H. Brown


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