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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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istock_2880338large_governmentWith every passing election season, the American church reveals just how set its mind is on the things of this world. It is discouraging to watch; for we have been called to a greater mission than making America great again.

We have been called to hasten the day of the Lord’s return.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:12-14

Every moment and every bit of energy invested in this world is wasted to the kingdom of God. Jesus came to establish an order of an entirely different kind. It appears that we have lost sight of the difference.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are to be “in the world, but not of this world” (John 17:14-19). There is no fine line in this. Those who want to be friends with the world are at enmity with God.

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

Even the desire to be a friend with the world makes us an enemy of God. It is time for us in the church to beg God to search their hearts and minds. Who will lead us?

The problem with deception is its nature: Those who are being deceived do not know that they are deceived. Deception is such a danger, that the whole armor of God is needed to protect us from it.

 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

This deception is the primary weapon of our enemy, Satan – particularly at the end of the age.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Thessalonians 2:9-10

Our salvation from the great deceptions of our day comes to us as we receive the love of the truth that God is offering. This includes the truth about the worldly things we have come to love.

We must receive God’s truth about America. 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 »

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