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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.

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It seems we have embarked on a series of articles about the way humans think, and what they think about. If that is the case, then this is the third article in the series. The first two are 3 Realities of Workplace Leadership and Did Jesus die, sacrifice and suffer so we wouldn’t have to?

Here is the premise of the series:

The church in America desperately needs a reformation. Where do reformations begin? Romans 12:2 encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps, in this Age of Reason, we need a reformation in the way we think.

We have gotten lazy with our thinking. We trust our thinking way too much. Those of us that preach and teach trust the thinking of others more than we should.

The way we think, and what we think about, is commonly called our mindset, worldview or paradigm. Everyone has one, though many do not recognize that they receive and respond to external stimuli through a mental filter that has been developed throughout their lifetime.

We are born with a mindset that has certain predetermined settings. Other come through learning. A baby crying when its hungry is not a learned behavior. Learning to manipulate with emotion is learned and developed. Both predetermined and learned behavior can be unlearned. Our minds can be renewed. Read the rest of this entry »

Doubled chaos by PokornyA paradigm is a pattern or model we use when considering – and responding to – the world around us. Workplace Leaders operate out of their paradigms. For the most part, paradigms are a matter of the mind, exposed by what we believe, confess, and do.

The Scriptural term for paradigm is mindset. Our paradigms should be an expression of “things above” (Colossians 3:2). Paradigms set on the things of this world are dangerous paradigms to have. They cause us to operate in ways that are contrary to the will of God.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Our pursuit of the will of God requires the renewing of our mind – the regular, even continual, transformation of our paradigms. God has made a way for this, and He has graciously given us a Transformer.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

While we are not the primary agent of our transformation, we must be diligent in our participation. It is important to recognize our role in the renewal process. We must set our minds on things above; particularly the glory of the Lord. We must submit to the Holy Spirit’s work. We have been given the mind of Jesus Christ; and we should use it by exclusively seeking the thoughts and ways of God. Read the rest of this entry »

A Storm is ComingFor most Christians, the Day of Pentecost was/is the day the Holy Spirit “came in power” upon those who were obediently waiting. This is true, but not the whole story. For many Christians today, Pentecost is about what we have been given. Again true, but limited… and a bit self-centered.

What if Pentecost is about something else; not something different, but something else important to the kingdom of God? Have you ever wondered why God chose the Festival of Weeks for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever considered His perspective of Pentecost? Have you ever considered what was in it for Him?

The Festival of Weeks was one of the three great celebrations of the Jewish year; given by God for “a new grain offering to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-21), “the firstfruits of wheat harvest” (Exodus 34:22). It was (is?) about the harvest. Is it possible that Pentecost is as much about the harvest of souls for God’s kingdom as it is about what we have been given (as great as that gift is)?

The Festival of Weeks was also the time of commemoration for the giving of the Law to Moses. In Jeremiah 31:33, we learn that God intends to write His law on our hearts. We know from John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. Is it possible that Pentecost, from God’s perspective, is as much about our “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:20) as what we personally receive from the Holy Spirit?

Many in the church are crying out for revival in America; for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why? I can’t help but wonder if our subconscious hope is for the return of “the good old days”; a day when Christians were respected, protected and comfortable. Could it be that God is waiting for us to align our purpose with His perspective?

Just something to think about.

Humbly yours and forever His,

A Storm is ComingThe way we think about the United States of America and the church that resides here is becoming ever more important. Only when we come to understand the relationship and separation of the kingdom of God and America, can we rightly assess the value and danger of our patriotism. An important question is coming to the foreground: In this day, can we give our hearts’ allegiance to both America and the kingdom of God?

Many of America’s values and beliefs have become contrary to those in the kingdom of God. Two of the most damaging are the spirit of independence and the belief that man has the right to establish his own rule. Without God, the tensions between the two become unmanageable. The United State of America is swiftly becoming an example and object lesson in this regard. Read the rest of this entry »

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