By Michael J. Brooks
Rick Stanley died in January at age 65. His life changed dramatically in 1960 when his mother married the widowed Vernon Presley. Rick and his two brothers became step-brothers to the King of Rock and Roll. Later he married the young lady who brought him to Christ, and Rick began to tell his story throughout the nation.
A friend insisted Rick was the most effective communicator of his day, and we had him in our church many years ago. He was a great communicator and I found him very approachable and people-centered. His testimony was so applicable: adopted by the king and invited to live in a place called Graceland!
We brought young adults together during the Sunday morning Bible study hour for a session with Rick. He told me previously the number one question he was always asked, and “right out of the chute” a person asked, “Was Elvis a Christian?” Rick took about 30 minutes to respond. When he was done our music minister leaned over to me and asked, “So, was Elvis a Christian?” In other words, I don’t think he gave a good answer. I suppose we have to leave this judgment in God’s hands.
It was during this event that I remember hearing a criticism for the first time. We had a table with Rick’s books and tapes, and someone complained to a deacon that we were like the moneychangers in the temple whom Jesus drove out (Mark 11). I was surprised and told the deacon these were ministry tools that would be a blessing to those who purchased them. Furthermore, Jesus called the temple moneychangers “thieves,” and we weren’t stealing anything. The event was underwritten by our members, the community was invited and nobody was charged admission. Also, I was sure if someone said they wanted an item and couldn’t afford it, our church would take care of the cost.
I read lately a better modern illustration of the anger Jesus expressed that day. He’s called the richest evangelist in America with personal wealth estimated between $330 – $770 million. He owns multiple homes and private jets. When asked by “Inside Edition” to justify his wealth he cited Galatians 3:29. “We’re descendants of Abraham and he was rich,” he said.
Some people are well-versed in scripture, and some are well reversed!
It’s clear in Galatians that Paul assured Gentile believers they weren’t second-class in God’s kingdom. Jew and Greek alike share in the spiritual heritage of Abraham as people of faith.
It’s sad that sincere people give their money to enrich a man rather than to support local churches who help people in need. Surely the Lord of the church is displeased with this. -30-
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.