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For the love of money is a root of all the evils, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1Timothy 6:10

Materialism is a mindset that substitutes the things of this world for the promises of God. This includes security, comfort, peace, joy, etc. In the Scriptures, materialism is called by another name:  Idolatry.

The use of “wandered” – in the verse above – is interesting. In the Greek, it means “to go astray, stray away from”.  It is a passive action; like a child wandering away from his mother.

In other words, materialism is not something we actively set our minds to pursue, like adultery or murder. It comes to us like an unseen toxin or cancer, many times wrap in attractive packaging. We don’t have to ask for materialism; it is an active agent – a catalyst for many kinds of sin.

Most American Christians are born into materialism. It is a big part of our culture – an inherent measure of the American Dream. “Keeping up with the Joneses”, once viewed as a negative pursuit, has now become an obligation. Homeowners’ association and our kids demand it. We have been deceived into thinking that making our neighbors and children happy is a redeeming activity. In reality, it is simply an excuse to procure more stuff.

From a Romanian pastor: “In my experience, 95% of the believers who face the test of external persecution pass it, while 95% of those who face the test of prosperity fail it!” Church leaders in China are recognizing the same threat. While persecution serves as a catalyst for church growth, China’s newfound prosperity is drawing believers away.

Assuming that Americans are somehow immune to this disease is both arrogant and dangerous – for ourselves and our children. To avoid or break free from the poison of materialism, we must recognize and respect it as our enemy. We must set our minds against it.

Once we acknowledge the potential for brokenness in the set of our mind, we become free and empowered to a healthy suspicion of the way we think and the affect that thinking has on our hearts. At this point, we must be particularly cautious.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowOne way to avoid doing what Jesus is saying is to avoid hearing it in the first place. However, this avoidance strategy does not make us less liable; nor our houses less susceptible to the storms of life. God will not have us live this way. He cares too much for our salvation and well-being (Luke 6:24).

That seems to be God’s purpose in these articles – to encourage our hearing; that we might grow in faith – trusting Him to provide the grace to do what Jesus is saying. So, let’s press in to hear, that we might do (and not do). For our reference, here is the saying we are trying to hear.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

What are Your Earthly Treasures?

Part 1 encouraged a pause for reflection and prayer; particularly around this question: What are the treasures you have laid up, or treasured, on earth? If you have not done so, please read Part 1; and heed its encouragement. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowSome sayings of Jesus are not very difficult to hear or do. For example, Do Not Swear at All. Others are easy to hear, but difficult to do (Be Extraordinary; Be Perfect). Then there are those that are difficult to do, simply because we have a hard time hearing them. Our next saying of Jesus is a good case in point.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

This saying is particularly hard to hear for those in the church that are tempted – and even presently deceived – by the American Dream. Consequently, I am concerned that I may lose a few of you on this one. To be honest, I may lose myself. It is a hard saying; probably one that Jesus used to drive away those that were less than serious about following Him.

So, before you turn away, let me encourage you: We are all in process; and our heavenly Father is sensitive to our place in the race. Consequently, this passage may not mean to you what it means to me – but it must mean something. Rather than run away from its meaning, trust God to reveal what you are to hear; and to give you the grace to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingThe vast majority of the articles God uses me to write are to encourage, edify and equip. This one is different. It may encourage, edify and equip you; but that is not my primary intent. I am writing it because I need your help; help in discerning what God is trying to say to me, and to the body of Christ, about our wealth and the coming storm. I am writing with the hope of hearing the LORD’s voice in community.

To begin, let me establish a baseline for the meaning of “wealth”. Here are some statistics that I have heard over the past few years:

  1. Those living at or above the poverty line in America are in the 95th percentile of the wealthiest people in the world. In other words, 95% of the people in the world live on less than the poverty level in America.
  2. Similarly, those that live at or above the median American income are in the 99th percentile of the wealthiest people in the world.

The vast majority of Americans are “wealthy” when compared to the rest of the world – including most of our Christian brethren. These stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do help us appreciate what God has entrusted to those of us that live in this nation.

Now, there are two particular passages of Scripture that have been haunting me for the last few years. Read the rest of this entry »

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