Whose Vision Are You Living?

“I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.  I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:11,12)

 

What is a life well-lived?

Whose vision are you living?  Whose dream are you living — yours or Corporate America’s?

Our society has no concept of “enough”.  It’s not enough to have a house; Corporate America would have you believe that you must have a twenty-room McMansion in order to be a complete and “successful” human being.

It’s not enough to have a car.  Corporate America would have you believe that in order to be “successful”, one must have a Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, or some other car that costs as much as most people’s mortgages.

What do YOU want?  What appeals to YOU?

 

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
           “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

 

The “preacher” who wrote these verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes is none other than King Solomon.

Solomon had wealth beyond imagination.  He had hundreds of wives (it is said that he fathered children by every single one of them).  He had gold.  He had jewels.  He had mines.  He had the best of everything.

Whatever he wanted, he possessed

“Vanity” is translated in the original Hebrew as “vapor”.  In essence, what Solomon is saying is that life comes and goes like vapor, like the mist.

 

“Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?  Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:18,19)

 

This is the fate of all who strive after riches — You Can’t Take it With You.  Your kids will be fighting over your “stuff” long after you’ve passed away.

 


 

How much of what we think we want in life is the result of our being programmed by Corporate America?  Madison Avenue spends billions of dollars every year to convince us that we are an “aspirational” society.

What is it that we should “aspire” to … gold-plated toys?  Trinkets?  Is having the latest model iPhone really worth working 90+ hours a week?   Is the BMW that’s parked in your driveway worth the time you’ve spent away from your spouse and children?

 


 

“I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

“Righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)

 

The mere accumulation of possessions is not enough to fill the emptiness in one’s soul (it didn’t work for King Solomon).  Expensive toys can never fill the God-shaped space in one’s heart.

We would do well to heed the wisdom of the Apostle Paul in Philippians Chapter 4:  a life well-lived is one that is lived modestly.  We should strive to be content in all circumstances.

Can You Handle The Truth?

Lt.  Kaffee:  “I want the TRUTH!

Col.  Jessup:  “You can’t HANDLE the truth!”

— A Few Good Men (1992) —

 

 

Those who preach the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” gospel enjoy trotting out Matthew 7:7 :

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The truly ambitious ones will trot out John 14:12-14 :

“[W]hoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

“I will do whatever you ask in my name” … as if Almighty God can be commanded like a genie in a bottle! (“Hello, God?  I’d like a BMW, an iPhone 6, and a waterfront house.  Oh, and can I have it all by next Tuesday?  Thanks!”)

According to the Prosperity gospel, the poor simply lack faith.  If they just click their heels and keep affirming that they’re wealthy, all the treasures that this world can offer (expensive cars and house, vast fortunes, expensive jewelry, exotic vacations, etc.) will be theirs for the asking.

As far as preachers of the prosperity gospel are concerned, such things as the overall economy and world events have absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with a person’s earning capacity.  They enjoy trotting out such bromides as “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!”

Is this something that we should really be encouraging?  Would Christ encourage His followers to wallow in the things of this world?

The prosperity preachers hardly ever mention Luke 6:24-25, where Jesus says:

“But woe to you who are rich,  for you have already received your comfort.

“Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.”

Or His advice to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21 (“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”).

Or further down the same chapter in verses 23 and 24:

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

How does one reconcile the Jesus of Luke 6:24-25 and Matthew 19:21 with today’s trendy “prosperity” gospel?

To make matters worse, not even pastors — those whom God has chosen to preach His Word  — are immune from this sickness of materialism (Pastor Creflo Dollar recently appealed to his congregation for money to buy a $65-million Gulfstream jet).

(Seriously?  Are you and your wife Taffi too good to fly Coach just like the rest of us?  When the shepherd is flitting about the world in his private jet, who’s tending the FLOCK?)

The man whom we serve, Jesus of Nazareth, WALKED wherever He went (He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as He was on His way to Calvary, but that ranks as an exception).  He was born in a manger and had no need of horses or fancy carriages during His years in ministry.

His successors in ministry — those whom God has appointed to prophecy and act in His name — would do well to emulate His example (at the very least, let us emulate Pope Francis, who is content to drive around Vatican City in a Ford Focus).

 

Idolatry — The Latest Trend

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:24

Idolatry is SO on trend nowadays.

It’s true.  Pick up “The Secret” or any book related to what’s now been called “The Law of Attraction”; if you just click your heels and affirm, “It sure feels great to be driving my new BMW”, a big black Beemer will be sitting in your driveway in no time at all.

(Actually, the technical term for what I’m describing is “prosperity teaching” … but it means pretty much the same thing.)

Something you should ask yourself:  Why is it so terribly important to drive a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus as opposed to a Hyundai, Kia, or Fiat?  It seems that Madison Avenue has succeeded in convincing a good portion of our society that they’re somehow lesser human beings because they’re driving something less expensive than a Mercedes or BMW.

The Law of Attraction (for those not in the know) stipulates that “whatever you focus on, manifests”.  If you’re worried about spilling coffee on your shirt, according to the LOA, you’ll spill coffee on your shirt.  If you’re worried about being late for work, guess what?  You’ll be late for work (God/The Universe will see to it).

That said, if your focus is on a BMW (or a big house … or an expensive diamond ring … or a 72-inch flat-screen TV … or an all-expense-paid vacation in St. Bart’s), then it stands to reason that your focus is NOT on God.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5, verse 7, God commands, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  If the central focus of your life is on anything OTHER than God (be it a BMW, an exotic vacation, or whatever), it is idolatry.  You have made a creation of man — a thing, an inanimate object — into an object of worship.

The prosperity teachers often justify the Law of Attraction by citing John 14:12 (“[W]hoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”) and John 14:14 (“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”).

Christ ALSO says in the very next verse, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 … which brings us back to Deuteronomy chapter 5, verse 7 — “You shall have no other gods before me” ).

The next time you see that Beemer or that Lexus parked next to you in the church parking lot on Sunday morning, think about the driver for a moment.  You don’t know their history.  You don’t know the story behind that car.

You can’t see the abusive relationship, the philandering spouse, the alcoholism or drug addiction, or the painful, expensive divorce that the owner may have been caught up in.  The person who owns that car may have to work 80-hour weeks in order to afford it (For that matter, the car may be on its last legs; for all you know, it could be 20 years old and held together with kite string and chewing gum under the hood).

There’s also the little matter of Envy, which is a sin.  The Enemy/The Evil One/The Devil uses envy to entice you into his clutches.

Think about your motives — why is it so important to have these expensive luxuries?  How much of what you’re feeling is due to programming by Madison Avenue?  Corporate America has a vested financial interest in cultivating feelings of envy within you (the more dissatisfied you are with your current state in life — and the more that you’re convinced that buying this or that product will resolve it — the more money THEY make).

The Takeaway:  Be grateful for all that you have.  If you have a house, a car, a TV, and broadband Internet access, be grateful for it (no matter how puny it may seem to you).  There are millions of people across the nation who don’t have ANY of those things.

A nation of happy, satisfied people who don’t feel the need to “aspire” to own such expensive luxuries would be nothing less than Corporate America’s worst nightmare.  If a Kia can run just as well as a Mercedes or BMW for a lot less money, what would be the point of “upgrading” to the more expensive car (other than for vanity’s sake)?  It would most certainly wreak havoc on Corporate America’s profits!

Think about it …