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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 »

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God is a process-oriented problem solver. Take the problem that Adam and Eve created in their rebellion. God lost His reign over, intimacy with, and habitation in His people. The Bible chronicles the process He has chosen to solve that problem – culminated in Revelation 21.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

The second half of this passage – the part we most remember – represents the problem’s solution from mankind’s perspective. It too was solved via process – particularly, the process of salvation.

As a side note: The Bible regularly speaks of God’s processes as His “ways”. God’s ways are prescription for the normal Christian life. God has a way for everything – particularly the BIG things – and He is generally clear about them.

The process of salvation includes another critical process – the process of faith. Faith is not a static element of our salvation. It is important that we understand God’s way for its growth and vitality. Let us begin with an oft quoted passage. Read the rest of this entry »

todd-whiteI recently viewed an encouraging movie put out by Todd White, called Lifestyle Christianity. This is not a plug for the movie (though I do recommend it); nor an endorsement of Todd White, per se.

This article is an observation – perhaps a revelation – from the life of Todd White, as portrayed in the movie.

TW is known for his evangelistic healing ministry. At least that is how I know of him. However, TW is not so much about healing people as he is about doing what God will do with someone that is radically obedient, and continually responsive, to God.

TW is simply going where he is sent, to do what he has been given to do. The difference in his life and mine (or yours?) is not His evangelistic approach, or the opportunities he has to heal people – as cool as that may be.

The thing that impressed me most is TW’s simple passionate desire to connect people with God. In the process, he lets his light shine before men in ways that glorify his Father in heaven.

Here is the revelation: We must be careful not to box God into a particular manifestation and method.  Connecting people with God can happen, supernaturally, in an unlimited number of ways and places. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassBeth and I are having a particularly blessed Christmas season. I find myself – like so many others – wanting to hang on; and I will, at least through the end of the year. Thankfully, the reason for this season stays with us for eternity.

But still, 2017 is coming up the driveway; and will be soon knocking at our door. I am already thinking about next week’s meetings and writing deadlines. There is no stopping the movement of time.

So, how do we move on from Christmas? How do we hold onto the reason for the season, as we move into the promise of New Year adventures?

Being a child that likes to ask questions, I asked those questions of our Father in heaven. Being a Father that likes to talk to His children, He answered. Being a brother who likes to pass on the Father’s encouragement, I am sharing with you, the beginnings of that answer.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Finding the mind of Jesus, in His “coming in the likeness of men”, is the beginning point for our transition into the New Year. As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us (John 20:21). The parallels here are astounding. Read the rest of this entry »

DSC_0731There was a time when fasting was a part of my Christian walk. Though profitable for a time, it became a religious thing; so I put it down for a season – until I could find God’s heart in it. Recently, the Lord put it back on my mind and stirred the desire in my heart for the fast that pleases Him.

The following is a brief summary of what I have come to understand about “The True Fast” of Isaiah 58. I hope you will use it as a launching point for your own exploration. To help in your discovery, keep in mind that the precepts of the Old Covenant are often examples of the New. In this case, the true fast is a foreshadowing of the fasted lifestyle.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

“The fasted lifestyle is about desire and wholeheartedness, about setting aside our physical hunger for things, as we commit wholeheartedly to grow in intimacy with Jesus.” Mike Bickle; Director of the International House of Prayer, Kansas City

The True Fast

Begin this study by reading Isaiah 58, in full. Then, consider the following thoughts as you reread each verse:

Verse 1: This is an important message. Give it your full attention. It is about the sins of God’s people.

Verse 2: Seeking to know God’s ways – even daily – is not enough. Righteousness and obedience are required. Jesus said much the same thing at the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 5:24-27

Verse 3 – 5: God is saying to His people, “What are you complaining about? What have you done for others; for the least of these? The fast I have chosen is not about you – what you do for, or to, yourself. Your fasting produces something that I will not bear.”

The issue of the fast is not the fast itself, but what the fast produces. This is an important paradigm shift. Fasting for self is not what God is after. There are more important things at stake. Read the rest of this entry »

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