Thursday, March 29, 2012

Praise the Lord or Pass the Loot


Those from the Charlotte area know first-hand what those letters mean, or meant. There was a couple of evangelists on a television show called The PTL Television Network. Jim and Tammy Faye. Remember when those t-shirts were popular around Charlotte, the “I ran into Tammy Faye at the mall”. It was a plain shirt with what appeared to be rubbed-off make-up in the image of a woman’s face. Tammy Faye Bakker wore a lot of make-up and cried a lot on tv. The network was just taking off when we moved to Charlotte. Years later, the group bought a large piece of land down in Fort Mill, South Carolina, just over the border from North Carolina. The plan was to build a massive resort with a shopping mall and amusement park. Their television show would be broadcast by satellite from here as well. This new location was called Heritage USA. Their ministry was a great success and pulled in millions of dollars. Anytime you tuned in to the show, they were asking for money. Send in your money and good things will happen to you. Some teased that PTL stood for Pass the Loot. I’m sure the ministry did do some good, but their use of wealth was troublesome. I remember going to see fabulous fireworks there on the 4th of July. The Christmas lights were something to see too. You could drive through the property and see such bright colorful lights all around you. I couldn’t help but wonder how much money was being spent on those lights and the electricity for them night after night. Shouldn’t that money have been used to help people in need instead? To make a long story short, there ended up being a huge scandal involving money, taxes, and a woman. PTL fell and fell hard. Jim and Tammy Faye divorced and Jim went to prison for a while. (Tammy Faye died from cancer in 2007). Jim Bakker discovered the truth of the Bible while in prison. He realized he had led many people away from the true gospel. Jim Bakker remarried and is back at evangelism apparently. While PTL was a massive turn-off to Christianity for me in its glory days, the bigger picture can now be seen. Anyone can sin, and sin big time. No one is immune to the temptations of money, fame, sex, power, prestige, etc. God used PTL to expose false teachings and destroyed its empire. It took being in prison for Bakker to come to terms with what he had done and to seek God’s forgiveness. The Bible teaches that when you confess your sins (admit what you did wrong), and turn completely away from those sins (stop doing them), that you will be forgiven. What Jesus did on the cross makes that possible. And when we put our faith and trust in Him, He helps us to walk on the right path. Bakker has been forgiven by God, and given a second chance to tell the good news of the gospel. If someone like Jim Bakker can be forgiven and restored by God, then so can we.  And that is good news.

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