Tuesday, June 27, 2006

#153: Anatomy of Wealth

Wealth has two faces: The first gives great pleasure to those who possess it, and is very desirous to those who don’t have it. It is totally understandable and natural why the vast majority of the world’s population would love to be wealthy. It gives security against hard times and makes life easy. It also gives power, prestige and a continual all-around safe feeling. Wealth is one of the most desired and treasured tools of the “survival of the fittest” mentality.

That is the reason the world turns on the desire to have money–the more the merrier—so people can do as they please with no fear of want. As it were, in most cases, money talks; money gets things done; when one has wealth, he/she is sitting on top of the world, etc. Who can dispute the importance and overall benefits of wealth? If anyone was to propose a theory that it is disadvantageous to desire or have wealth, that person would be sent to the funny farm.

This consensus on the necessity of wealth has been and still is the status quo worldwide, although there is one exception. The New Testament of the Christian Bible says otherwise, by using derogatory language concerning its value or possession. This theology is misunderstood by a vast majority of people who call themselves Christians. And it is easy to understand why: To reject wealth violates survival’s most basic instinct. Again, wealth is necessary and of great value for people who are not attached to Jesus Christ. What else do they have or desire to look forward to? Only the pleasures that wealth offers. It could be said that wealth is the holy grail of the world’s population.

Why is wealth offensive to Christ when it is in the hands of God’s holy people? There are many reasons. The most basic reason is that all humans, many without knowing it, desire to have Godly power. Remember, according to the Old Testament, we were created in the image of God. I would interpret it this way: We have the potential (all the necessary equipment) to become powerful gods. Money is the main avenue to acquire that God-like power. Now we know why we love money: It gives the ability and power to make us feel invincible. Again, it is not the money itself we love, but the ability it gives to do as we please: good, bad or selfish.

The main, if not the only, reason wealth is an insult to God is because all true wealth and power belong only to Him. This does not mean unbelievers can’t be or desire to be wealthy; they can have their fill of wealth and power and God doesn’t give a hoot. However, in the future, that wealth-driven power may keep them from becoming aware of a need for what God freely offers.

If someone desires Godly power, it must come through a connection with Jesus Christ. Of course, Godly power is not synonymous with worldly power. Worldly power is used mostly for self-centered motives, whereas Godly power is used to promote the cause of Christ. Therefore, never the twain shall meet. This tells me that God’s ways are not our ways. Christians can’t “have their cake and eat it too.” Material wealth and God do not agree. There are enough New Testament verses to substantiate that belief, which will be brought up later in this post.

There are many other reasons why wealth is not beneficial to genuine Christians, other than usurping the power that belongs to God alone. One thing that wealth produces is pride; that is something the Lord hates. It makes a person arrogant, stuck-up, snobbish; he/she feels privileged and above the law since their money can get them out of any scrape with the law; he/she also has the ability to walk all over whomever. That pride makes one feel as if they are better than others that are not as wealthy; also, pride at times puts on the pretense of goodness, and adds a facade of humility to cover up their real feelings. Pride belongs to God. Did God make the wealthy better or more important than the less fortunate? They think so. Most of these attitudes that wealth produces come naturally, and without much effort.

Laziness is another attribute of wealth. Other than in ways to increase or hold on to one’s wealth, it makes people lazy. Anything that takes effort, is physically exerting, or takes precious time is farmed out to whomever (outsourced, as it were). They think, “Why should anyone exert oneself if they don’t have to?” It could be from cleaning the house, gardening, doing lawn care and weed control, to repairs and maintenance of whatever, preparation of meals by a restaurant, or hiring a live-in housekeeper and cook, care of children, driving instead of walking or riding the bike. In fact, there are many chores that can be done by family members that most wealthy people wouldn’t think of doing. To put it in a few words, the wealthy have it easy when it comes to living. And worse yet, if a wealthy person claims to be a Christian, they believe their wealth to live the good life is a blessing from God.

Results of laziness: weight gain in the wrong places; health problems, especially in old age; premature aging and onset of many degenerative diseases. Worst of all, wealth makes the need for the good things God has to offer not as necessary; they forget about God since their life is already full of much goodness. I truly understand that it is human nature to be lazy, and wealth makes it more than possible.

Those that are wealthy are spoiled. No one has much good to say about a spoiled child who wants and gets things his/her own way, regardless of whatever is bad for them. Although wealthy adults don’t often show in public how spoiled they really are, when they want something, no big deal—they get it. When something is not going their way, puff—they, most often make it disappear.

The wealthy that claim to be christians have the power to silently influence what is preached, and what is not, in the church they attend. For example, a minister wouldn’t dare bring up the many New Testament verses that advise church members of the harm the desired “good life” does to Christians. They could never mention that obedience to what the New Testament commands is absolutely necessary as evidence of our Salvation. They can never even give a hint of how sports is a gigantic waste of time—time that could/should be spent on Godly matters. I could just imagine what would happen to the organized church if, all at once, all churches took seriously what the New Testament commands about many of the topics this blog brings out to the open: total collapse. Yes, the influence the wealthy have on church-style “christianity" is beyond what one can imagine.

Of course, out of necessity, wealthy “christians” circumvent the bad- mouthing of wealth done by the New Testament in this way: “Look at all the good our tithes, offerings and charitable work is doing for spreading of the gospel.” That may be all well and good, but if their money is going to a feel-good, easy-does-it, anything-goes gospel, it will/has done much harm to the cause of Christ Jesus. But more important than what the wealthy are doing with their money, look at what it is doing to them: flamboyant or semi-flamboyant lifestyles. This “holy wealth” is a heinous crime against God by making themselves role models for other wannabe Christians who desire to be wealthy like them. Then their main motive will not be to gain holiness, obedience, love, etc., but wealth so they too can do so much for their church. What else is new?

While on the subject of charity, what occurred this week is, most likely, one of the greatest humanitarian happenings in the history of the world: to see billionaire philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett give about 66 billion dollars to much-deserved charities (helping those who can’t help themselves)–I am certain this event will inspire more wealthy people to give for the same cause. There is only one big sadness: Did anyone hear the name Jesus Christ mentioned in conjunction with this giving? I didn’t. I heard the word “love” mentioned, but not “God’s Love.” That means neither Christ nor the Father will receive any glory, praise or honor from these wonderful good deeds. Men/women get the glory. On behalf of the creator of the world, that is a crying shame—I wonder if any of these three people claim to be Christians.

That is not to say that wealthy people can’t become genuine Christians. But if and when they do, their wealth must be spent on promoting the cause of Jesus Christ, and helping those in need–not the lazy—to the point that their lifestyle will make it obvious they are not wealthy any more. This happened in the gospels when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both wealthy men, became followers of the Christ. In the beginning days of the early church, rich believers in Jerusalem—because of extreme poverty all around—sold what they had and shared it with all those in need. Acts 4:32. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” That verse is indicative of the wealthy (Joseph and Nicodemus) who chose to become Christians–I do want to mention that any Jews that became followers of Christ in Jerusalem were ostracized in every way possible, including employment. That was the reason for their extreme poverty.

It could easily be said that the Christian religion was meant for those in need, both spiritually and materially. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He never once called the rich to himself. God would love to see His people barefoot and hungry, so to speak (without much extra), only counting on God to supply their daily provisions, through their own efforts or through the help of His holy people. The continual need for what God offers is what makes–or should make–Christianity a powerful and potent religion.

There are many things in life that are insatiable: our desire for more food than our bodies actually need; our desire to be better, in every way, than the next person; our need to be desired, wanted, admired, respected and loved by others; the sensual desire that human nature gives, especially in one’s earlier years. But the most insatiable desire is the ability to have enough money. Wealth breeds/needs more wealth. Wealth can never be satisfied; it always says, “more, more.” Guess what becomes the most damaging attribute of wealth? GREED.

We all may be guilty concerning this next subject, but the wealthy have the best chance of being the guiltiest. Waste! America is the most wasteful country on this planet. Why is that? Answer: Abundance makes waste. And the wealthy have the greatest abundance. What right does anyone have to be wasteful while there are hungry and needy everywhere one looks? Shame on us. Waste is a crime against the needy. Jesus said in John 6:12, “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." Actually, when anyone eats or drinks more than their body needs, that is a waste not only the wealthy are guilty of, but most of us, especially on the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I am certain no one wants to hear about how wasteful we are; nevertheless, I brought it up to point out how disgraceful the practice is. Don’t expect your church leader to mention this topic.

Another condition wealth breeds is the lack of connection with the real world. The result is apathy for the feelings and needs of the less fortunate. Apathy nullifies the nurturing of empathy (being able to walk in another’s shoes). Empathy is one of the most treasured gifts given by God to genuine Christians. The wealthy have the best chance to be empathic, but may be the least. Money is of great importance to all wealthy people; otherwise they wouldn’t be wealthy.

Actually, by bringing up this topic, I might just as well be barking at the moon. Why? In all developed countries, it is essential for everyone to go to school, and I agree. We would do no one any good if we were illiterate. Therefore, the golden rule is to go to college to get a degree and then find employment to earn good money. We do this so we won’t have to dig ditches or wash and iron clothes the rest of our lives. Understandable. The problem arises when our education earns us ‘big bucks.’ Remember, everyone desires to make as much money (wealth) as they possibly can. Again, that is only natural.

My question is this: Is there anything wrong with the educational action in the aforementioned paragraph? Why does the end result seem to conflict with what Jesus Christ expects from His people? Is there some kind of compromise? Yes, if Christians could get greed out of wealth and put God into it, to the point that wealth is nothing more than a tool/method of promoting the purpose of Jesus Christ–I didn’t say give to the local church—without having/living a life of excess, but a life of modesty. That could easily be called Godly wealth. This seems to make sense, although in this paragraph, I am ad-libbing as to what the New Testament teaches.

Let me end with New Testament verses and let God’s spirit guide everyone as to the course which is correct for them.

1st Timothy 6:17-18. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good and be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Mark 4:19. “but the worries of this life, the DECEITFULNESS OF WEALTH and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” [emphasis added]

1st Timothy 6:6-10. “But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men [money] is detestable in God’s sight.” [emphasis added]

Mark 10:21-23. “. . . ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’”

James 5:3. “Your silver and gold are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.”

Matthew 29:21-24 is similar to the verse above. “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ [There are prerequisites before following Jesus]. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man 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 a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” Jesus, in essence, is saying that it is impossible for prosperous, rich, or wealthy men/women to be Christians.

Hebrews 13:5. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have . . .”

James 5:1. “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.”

Luke 16:13. “ You cannot serve both God and money.”

Luke 16:14. “The Pharisees [the guys that Jesus loved to bad- mouth], who LOVED MONEY, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” [emphasis added]. Will some readers also sneer at Jesus and me for being so hard-edged? I think so.

Luke 6:24. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your reward."

James 1:10. “In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”

Luke 12:15. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Luke 12:17-21. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What should I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said to himself, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Matthew 6:19-21. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

2nd Timothy 3:1-5. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, LOVERS OF MONEY, boastful, proud, . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” [emphasis added].

1st Timothy 3:3. “. . . not a lover of money.”

Luke 14:33. “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Some may be thinking, “Does this leader of His stupid religion think we are jerks; what we have worked hard for all our lives, he wants us to give it to some poor bas . . . .? No thanks, I’ll stay where I am and enjoy listening to a pleasing and relaxing Gospel.”

Luke 16:19-25. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. . . . The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment . . . [Abraham speaking to the rich man in hell] ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’”

1st Peter 5:2 “. . . not greedy for money but eager to serve . . .”

Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted . . .”

1st John 3:17. “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

This is not a complete list of verses that do not speak nicely of the wealthy; there are many more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

#152: Billy Graham: Man of God?

There is no doubt that Billy Graham preached to more people in his lifetime than any other person in the entire world. He was/is the greatest, most eloquent and persuasive religious orator that ever lived. He has a way of presenting a message that can’t be beat. His roots go to a First Baptist Church in Texas, of which he is still a member. I am certain he made more people aware of a need for accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior than any other human being. If more people had the passion that he had in spiritual matters, this would be a better world. He is a man of modest living habits and a proponent of never being extravagant; he used the earnings from his ministry to further his religious purpose.

One reason for his popularity: he was multi-denominational. There were/are, at the minimum, 50 denominations that subscribe to what he preaches. That is impressive to say the least. But for that diversity of religious beliefs there is a price to pay. In order not to step on too many religious toes, there were certain doctrines he minimized or excluded altogether in his preaching; it could be that he didn’t want to offend anyone’s belief system. He could be labeled a universal preacher (one message fits all, as it were). I do not believe Pastor Graham was disingenuous in his preaching, and without any doubt in his mind, he surely believed he was preaching the whole truth. Nevertheless, there are extremely important portions of the gospel message Billy Graham neglected; these are the ones this post will fill in.

Billy Graham is a Baptist. I am not certain how many bloggers know what Baptists believe concerning when a person is saved. Answer: Once a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, their Salvation is eternal (God is not an Indian giver). In other words, if a person believes he/she is saved, and sins by disobedience or by omission of a necessary good deed, he/she is still saved. To cover their tush, this is tagged on to that belief: Regardless of how people are living, as long as they verbally profess Christ as Lord and Savior, they have eternal security. Baptists say, “Who made you or me the judge, jury, and executioner? Only God can read the motives of a person’s heart. We must give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” Sure!

A nickname for that theology is: “Once saved, always saved.” Anyone who looks at that type of belief with any Godly or Biblical understanding and logic can easily predict the result: “Sanctified disobedience." The problem is, that form of misguided teaching gives believers a safety net of freedom: to live as they please with no fear of losing their Salvation. The effects of that type of theology may have had a profoundly negative implication in the direction Christianity has shifted in the last 57 years in America and the world. For good reason, the New Testament will bust that “anything goes” bubble with this post, using nothing more than the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The question I pose is this: Of all the hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions, that answered the alter-call to accept Jesus Christ as Savior in the last 57 years or so at Billy Graham’s crusades, how many at this time are genuine Christians? Baptists would say, most likely, that all of them are. Dogmatically making a statement of that sort is where a grievous heresy springs to life. That type of belief negates obedience, dedication, faith, love and all other essentials that make up the Christian life.

Another potential problem: Since Billy Graham (a Baptist) is a shining role model to most American Christians, what church did many, if not most, of those new converts join? Most likely a Baptist church. Do they know what the New Testament expects of/from them as Christians? I really doubt it. They will go to a Baptist or a kissing-cousin church and listen to the preacher and believe his/her every word as gospel truth and “live happily ever after.” For that reason, “Religion’s Crime Against God” is here to expose the non-biblical teachings of the Baptist and many other well-known and popular denominations.

The reason this “once saved, always saved” belief came into existence, was because of a misunderstanding of New Testament Scripture. Here is the scenario they use to defend that doctrine: If a person is saved when they are good, and lost when they are bad, and when a person repents, he/she is saved again, and on and on. They say that this roller-coaster ride of being saved one day and lost the next is ridiculous. And I agree; it certainly is.

The confusion comes from the use of the word “saved.” There are several uses for that word in Scripture. There are at least 29 verses that use it in the future or present tense: “will be saved,” “are being saved,” “are saved,” and 6 verses that use it in the past tense: “we were saved,” “have been saved,” “has saved us.” Now the question comes up: Are we saved, or are we being saved? There seems to be a contradiction. Not so. Let me clarify their use by using a human allegory.

A multi-billionaire chose a small number of families to be prime candidates for an experiment. He contacted each family personally and told them what he proposed to do. He gave each family an unbelievable gift: a beautiful large home in the South Pacific, along with all expenses paid: one hundred thousand dollars a year, for life. They won’t have to do a lick of work for the rest of their lives, guaranteed. To prove he wasn’t kidding, he took them all to view their new homes and gave them each a copy of a document which tells of having several billion dollars in escrow that can never be withdrawn by the billionaire. It is the recipient's life-long piggy bank.

Each family was given a deed to their new home, but there was one condition: Before they could actually occupy their new home and live a life of leisure (Shangri-la), they had to go through an arduous obstacle course. This course could be completed in only a few months, or it may take several years to accomplish. If, for any reason, any family didn’t or couldn’t finish the course, they were disqualified and had to forfeit their precious gifts.

Now, getting back to the word “saved”: All people who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior technically ARE SAVED because they accepted God’s free gift by grace, and therefore can actually visualize their heavenly homes. The New Testament is the document to verify that transaction (they have God’s word). But according to that document, there is one condition: they must first finish an all-important course. That course is to live life as that document specifies. To put it another way: As they are on the difficult course of living the Christian life, they are saved–God’s work—and are BEING SAVED at the same time–their works. Acts 2:40. "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Luke 21:19. "By standing firm you will save yourselves." Philippians 2:12. “. . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Christians must possess Salvation before they can work on it. Their complete Salvation will culminate by being actualized at the resurrection of the dead, on Judgment Day.

Some will quickly say, “That is works.” Wrong! They were saved because they believed what God said in His document and thus accepted His free gift. Living life as God requires (obedience to His Commands), difficult as it may be, is no more than EVIDENCE of their faith in God. The Christian life (their works) is lived because they already have been [past tense] saved. Ephesians 2:8-10. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do GOOD WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do" [emphasis added]. First saved, then works, equals eternal life; first saved, then no works, equals eternal death.

Now is the time to give unequivocal proof from the New Testament that Salvation is conditional. Repeating, that condition is to believe and live as God requires/commands after we have been saved, because we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

All verses taken from the New International Version. I will emphasize certain words by capitalizing them or by enclosing them in brackets. The following is Bible truth.

1st Corinthians 15:2. “By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

Matthew 7:2. “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

The book of Hebrews is full of “ifs.” Hebrew 3:6. “And we are his house, IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”

Hebrews 3:14. “We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly TILL THE END the confidence we had at first.”

Hebrews 5:9. “. . . he became the source of eternal salvation for all who OBEY him.”

Hebrews 6.:4. “ It is IMPOSSIBLE for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the coming age, IF they fall away, to be brought back to repentance . . .”

Hebrews 10:26. “IF we deliberately KEEP ON SINNING after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.”

Hebrews 12:14. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without HOLINESS no one will see the Lord.”

1st John 2:15. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. IF anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”

1st John 2:3. “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands.”

1st John 2:5. “But IF anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.”

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in him MUST walk as Jesus did.”

1st John 3:6. “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.”

1st John 3:9. “No one born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

1st John 5:3. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God has OVERCOME the world.”

After all these hard-edged verses in 1st John, there is a word of comfort in 1st John 2:1. “But IF anyone does sin . . .”(did you notice that the author did not use the word “when”?) “If” means occasionally, if ever, while “when” means certainty—we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ the Righteous one. [Also, premeditated sin has the smell of death attached to it].

Matthew 10:22-23. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.”

Matthew 24:12. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The next 8 verses, from the Book of Revelation, all mention the word “overcome.” Someone may ask, “Overcome what?” Answer: “Overcome the world.” The author of Revelation is believed to be the Apostle John, the same person who wrote the book of 1st John and the Gospel of John, and who walked with Jesus for 3 years. He mentioned the word “overcome” in 1st John several times and added the word “world.” Also in John 16:33, John is quoting Jesus as saying, “I have overcome the world.” To be more descriptive: overcome all the sinful but pleasurable temptations that are in vogue, which this ungodly world offers.

The following verses are from the Book of Revelation.

2:7. “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

2:17. “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.”

2:26. “ To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.”

3:5. “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.”

3:12. “Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.”

3:21. “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I have overcome and sat with my Father on his throne.”

21:7. “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

This next section will be on obedience to what God commands in the New Testament. It is a repeat of the last part of post # 127. This is where many people who call themselves “christians” may get a failing grade. These verses will also be for those who downplay the importance of Scriptural obedience.

2nd John 1:6. “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.”

Acts 5:32. “ We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God will give to those who obey him.”

Romans 15:18. “. . . leading the gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done. . .”

Romans 16:26. “. . . by the commands of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him.”

Hebrews 5:9. “. . . he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

1st Peter 4:17. “. . . what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

1st John 2:3. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

1st John 3:24. “Those who obey his commands live in him , and he in them.”

Revelation 14:12. “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

For those who desire to know more of what God commands and the result of living the genuine Christian life, click on the Table of Contents # 127: “Silently Forbidden New Testament Verses.” There are another 50 verses to consider.

The New Testament tells a sobering story of what real Christianity was meant to be. How could what is now called “christianity” get so far from what the Bible teaches? Answer: unholy men who desire prestige, power and influence, along with a gullible laity.

Only those who are or desire to be genuine Bible believing Christians will make EVERY EFFORT to adhere to these Scriptures. Just going to church on Sunday, saying one’s prayers and being good the rest of the week is a poor imitation (a parody) of genuine Christianity. If the New Testament doesn’t tell what Christianity consists of, what does? Remember that all humans are flawed; therefore, what anyone teaches is flawed, including this author. Stick with the Holy Scripture and you will not go wrong.

Let me mention this: I searched through about 32 of Billy Graham’s sermons and only found two that mentioned the words “obey” or “obedience.” One of them was a teaching on how children must obey their parents; the other was given in 1958. I am certain he must have preached on obedience as to what God commands more than that, but it looks to me like he downplays that paramount subject because of the unpopularity of the word “obedience.” Christianity without obedience is not Christianity. That is one of religion's crimes against God.

I am certain some bloggers have been offended and others irritated by this post that cuts to the core of religious belief. For those who are in a state of denial of their feel-good spiritual cancer or the authenticity of this strong message, I ask you to please send me a Biblical rebuttal. Or if I have left out some passages that are in favor of the belief I have challenged, again let me know. Or better yet, take this message to a career clergyman/women. Let them present their defense. My only desire is that some of the readers who need to make serious changes in their belief systems are motivated to do so by this message. My prayer is that God will bless all the bloggers who subscribe to this blog, but He can only bless as much as you–plural—will allow.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

# 151: Theocracy, Aristocracy, or Democracy

Webster’s defines theocracy as: “A government by a person or persons claiming to rule with divine authority.”

Aristocracy: “Government by a privileged minority or upper class, usually of inherited wealth or social position.”

Democracy: “Government in which the people hold ruling power either DIRECTLY or through elected representatives” [emphasis added].

When the elected officials of a democracy are wealthy and/or privileged with social position, that democracy will not/cannot function as a true democracy even though it would seem that the people are in charge of government since they elected those in office. Only thing is, the candidates with the larger budgets–usually the wealthy–are able to do much more advertising for their campaigns; and since wealthy people are known to be greedy–they call it “prosperous”—they may run an unscrupulous smear campaign, therefore making his/her benevolent opponent without wealth look like the wrong choice. Guess what happens in such a case? The electorate may have been deceived into voting for the wrong person for that office in a not-for-profit democracy. Then those elected officials who are wealthy or those with high social position favor laws that benefit their kind (the wealthy). Guess who pays the price? The middle and lower classes of people.

Case in point: This scenario has been playing out in the Bush administration more than most others: Tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate America, combined with laws which favor their financial interest, along with all kinds of perks; then, laws that favor the lower and middle class, the ones who deserve/need it the most, will be but a pittance.

Solution in four short sentences: 1) No elected officials or appointees can be wealthy or privileged. 2) Candidates can earn no more than their previous places of employment, and make no more, if elected, than the median income of all working people; candidates must not be worth more in real property or investments than what the average person of that country is worth, which would automatically exclude the rich. In other words, to be any part of government, it must be a labor of love and sacrifice for all who have a desire to make and keep democracy free from anything that would show favoritism to any groups except the common people. 3) All professional lobbyists must be banned, and no perks of any kind for anyone. 4) Along with that, put a fair limit on how much can be spent on campaign financing, with equality of campaign monies to be spent by all candidates. Result: a democracy which will benefit the populace.

Another more insidious problem: When elected officials of a democracy are affiliated with a religious organization, they may naturally favor laws that take into account what their church’s spiritual beliefs are—good, bad, or otherwise. That type of theocratic democracy will not/cannot function as a true democracy, but will silently–and maybe not so silently—become a religious democracy–if there is such a thing.

Case in point: A large group of Bush’s conservative Christian base, whom Bush courted, won the election for him. Without them, Bush would not now be president, thus no Iraq war. Can you see how just one religious person in government can influence our lives and history? The unfair result is that all who live in that type of democracy and don’t desire a certain law that a religious democracy mandates must abide with it against their will–66% of Americans are against the Iraq war. What right does anyone have to slyly enact (force) their religious beliefs on others in a true democracy?

Solution: First, no religious deity can be mentioned in the constitution, on money, government documents, the courts, or any other government institution. Second: No elected official can be a member of, or affiliated with, any religious organization. This does not mean they shouldn’t have high morals and strong personal beliefs. A religious deity of any sort, be it Jesus, God, Mohammad, Allah, Mary or Joseph, Buddha, etc., must in no way be intermingled with politics or government. I am by no means attempting to say that an atheistic democracy is what is needed. Just the opposite: I am propounding true religious freedom, free from all political meddling. Religion is essential for many in their attempts to get their deity to show them favor. That may be all well and good, but a theocratic democracy's forced religion is valueless for anyone to gain acceptance from any form of Godhood.

It is so simple that a ‘nothing’ like myself has to bring the basics for true democracy to public attention. The aforementioned plan can bring true religious freedom along with freedom from wealthy political and financial tyrants. Nevertheless, those good-for-the-masses types of laws will never, even with the help of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, be legislated with America’s present political structure which revolves around this theme: “Get as much money, power, prestige and future influence as one can while in office.”

Those in power at the present would never go for anything of the sort. That is a crying shame. We are between a rock and a hard place when the three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative) are embedded with wealthy and religious officials. The result: The power they wield makes the middle and lower classes subservient. The only way to accomplish a true democracy where the majority and not the minority are in control in America is to start from scratch. But how? I would never suggest a non-violent voter rebellion against a government that is unfair to the working class; the Apostle Paul said in 2nd Timothy 2:4: “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs. He wants to please his commanding officer [Jesus Christ].” However, the many bloggers who freely subscribe to this blog can start a grass roots movement. When religion gets involved in the treacheries of government and politics, or vice-versa, it becomes one of religion’s crimes against God.

The bottom line: For a democracy to be of value to the majority, religion and wealth must be purged and replaced with common, unbiased, ordinary people.

I can just see the type of democracy that will be formed in Iraq: the three different sects, all believing in the Islamic religion, but in very different ways, along with a few Christians. Will they have equal religious freedom? A true democracy, free of religious bias, can never coexist when the majority practice Islam. The reason being: With a few exceptions, where Islam is the dominant religion, it is the Islamic religion that is the government (the ruling entity). The sheiks have the last say. What will end up with the stooges for George Bush's democracy is—if I may use the vernacular—a big pile of heart-breaking caca for everyone involved. As Senator Robert Byrd, now 88 years old, after many terms in the Senate, put it last night on TV (6/12/06), “Of all the votes I made in my 47 years in the Senate, the most important one was when I voted against the Iraq war. The reason being, America was not provoked in any way by that regime.” The senator intuitively knew it’s a no-no for one country to mess around with another’s religion or internal affairs, regardless of how bad they may be.

When Saddam Hussein was in power, he—with his wicked, murderous hands of steel—kept peace between all three sects, to the point where they could live next to each other. Now see what Bush, who claims to be a “born-again evangelical Christian” got that country into: a civil war that is out of control (a religious farce), a direct result of Bush’s desire to spread American-style democracy throughout the world.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

# 150: For Heaven's Sakes! Life at its Best

The New Testament does not give many details as to what heaven will be like, although it does tell who and what will not be in the Kingdom of God. Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 1st Corinthians 6:9-10. “Do you know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Also, the lazy will never make it. Matthew 25:26. “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’” Hebrews 6:12. “We do not want you to become lazy. . .” Check post # 29 for the results of being lazy. It would have been helpful if we’d had a few more details of what heaven’s recipients would be experiencing, which would make it a little more realistic. For that reason, this post, for the most part, will consist of inspired speculation of what heaven will be like.

Before getting started on what heaven will consist of, I want to bring up a topic that is extremely controversial. Most Christians believe that when a person dies, his/her spirit goes straight to heaven or hell. That is totally unbiblical. At death, everyone’s spirit goes into a sleeping state. Since spirits don’t occupy physical space, they may be with God or elsewhere–innocent until proven guilty —waiting for the resurrection and the final Judgment Day. I have already written extensively on this topic; therefore, I will refer you to the Table of Contents # 131, “Evidence of Faith at the Final Judgment.” There are a dozen New Testament verses to substantiate ‘asleep at death’ and none that tell of going straight to hell or heaven. The only section of Scripture that falsely supports organized church’s belief is a parable in Luke 16:19-26, where Jesus makes known that it is not the rich that are blessed by God, but the poor. This section tells of a beggar named Lazarus and a rich man dressed in purple.

The main reason for our presence in heaven is for a very specific purpose: to share and enjoy the life of God, and for God to enjoy our company. Anywhere and everywhere anyone goes, they will continually be in the presence of God; He is never out of sight; we become like the one we gaze at. We will eternally be growing into the likeness of Almighty God (clones). He is still one, even though He will/does consist of an infinite number of like-minded entities–hopefully a few of us. Repeating this new concept: God’s purpose is to duplicate Himself in the lives of all heaven’s inhabitants. The Apostle John wrote in 1st John 3:2, “. . . But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Jesus Christ said in Luke 6:40, “. . . but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

As to our appearance, we will be recognized by our friends and family, though we will all look about the same age. If we died when we were 10 years old or 110, according to earthly standards, we will, for the sake of equality, look about 30 earth years old, or so. Our faces will be smooth, without signs of stress, etc.; our bodies will be slim and trim. We will remain in that condition for all eternity. We will still remember the positive things that we experienced on earth, at least for awhile, but all negative memories will be blotted from our memories so we won’t have to grieve or cry over those who didn’t make it. Revelation 7:17. “God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” This implies that we won’t remember the bad conditions we were exposed to on earth and thus shed tears and have continual sorrow in our hearts.

We will have spiritual bodies (visible and tangible, but not physical). Although for traveling purposes, we can become invisible at the blink of an eye. There will be no genders, and therefore, no sensual desires or marriage–I can hear some saying, “Oh, shucks.” There is no need for sleep or darkness. Our main source of food will be spiritual: continually feasting on the life of God (a continual growing experience).

We live in a very, very gigantic universe, all of which belongs to God. In His universe, there are/will be an infinite number of planets/worlds that will have/do have a congenial and hospitable environment, which is or will be occupied by different forms of life. As the inhabitants of these worlds continue to evolve, by God’s evolution process, eventually some will acquire intelligence. When that occurs, these occupants will be given the faith-based ability and opportunity to come in contact, through belief, with their planet’s own personal God.

Again, there is only one Almighty God, which includes all the residents in the Kingdom of God. No small task. It will be a never-ending experience as eternity rolls on. In other words, Almighty God will be present in some of those worlds through the Godly lives of those who once were humans on planet earth. They, and hopefully some of us, are the ones who were/will be accepted into heaven because of their/our belief, which was displayed by a holy life of love and obedience.

While eons of timelessness continually roll along, after everyone has been equipped with God’s power, knowledge, wisdom, love, secrets, etc., we will be ready to go to the places where we will use our expertise: other planets in the universe that have evolved to the extent where their inhabitants (creatures that have the ability to believe in the abstract) can be introduced to their God. Although equality will be the theme, earthly Christians who were promised rewards on earth will be give more responsibility and more challenging planets to work with.

Even though those creatures in other worlds may not look anything like we did as humans on earth—physical makeup is not of importance—a few will have the ability to believe, love and obey Almighty God; repeating, this may be you or I after we have been transformed into Almighty God. [Singular].

One thing that will be difficult to describe in human words is the love there will be between every single heavenly person. The best way I can describe it, though it still doesn’t come close, is the love a mother has for her newborn baby or her young children, or the sensual love two young lovebirds have for each other when they first fall in love. Here is a better way to describe it: Everyone feels as if all others are themselves. There is no separation. Still, here is a better way to say it: There is a unity between everyone as if they all are one heavenly person. Still the best description: You are in everyone and everyone is in you. That is the best I can do. That is the unity of Godly love. The most beautiful thing about it is that everyone will have a free will. There will be no coercion or spiritual robots whatsoever. Just remember, everyone who got there wanted more than anything to be in the presence of God for eternity. Their earnest desire through their belief was turned into reality by God.

Since heaven’s inhabitants are not physical, nothing else will be physical, be it their homes, the surface they walk on, or the white robes they wear. Everything in God’s Kingdom will be tangible and visible but not physical. The main occupation, if one can call it that, will be growing into the knowledge and likeness of God. By the way, this Almighty God I continually mention is none other than Jesus Christ, the God of planet earth.

One neat thing is that we will be shown and taught, firsthand, all the secret details (how God created the laws of physics) of how the universe came into existence; in fact, we will participate in its continued construction, since the universe is infinite.

Communication between God and everyone else, and between each other, will be telepathic. All that will be necessary to start a conversation is to just think of the person–if we can still be called people–one wants to visit with. There will be no verbal communication. Even the angelic music will be telepathic. We will use our legs to walk unless the distance is great, and as previously mentioned, we can become invisible and instantly arrive at our destination, whether it is just a short walk or to another planet.

Even though the Old Testament mentioned that the wolf will live with the lamb–I believe they are referring to the new physical Earth—that does not mean there will be animals there; it only signifies the tranquility. If there will be real physical animals on the new earth, what is their purpose for being there? If the inhabitants of the new Earth were to be physical, I am baffled as to how they can have eternal life, since physical things are fragile. Therefore, I will not discuss life on the new Earth–because of my lack of logical speculation. Check Isaiah Chapter 11, concerning animals.

The source of our overwhelming joy comes from knowing how important and loved we are in the sight of everyone including God. It’s a joy that never gets boring or dull. If anyone could experience that type of love on earth, they would most likely start levitating into thin air. That is what life in heaven is all about. Something else that will be missing in God’s Kingdom is competition. We will not want to be better than the others; we would want others to be better than ourselves, if that were possible. That is the way it should be on earth at this time. Sure. Also, no one will ever be in a hurry since time does not exist in eternity.

If heaven is as wonderful as this post portrays, although it is even better and Christians believe it, they should be jumping with joy and anxious to die; I don’t mean suicide of any sort regarding how to get there, but as I mentioned in the previous post # 149, heaven is not real to most Christians, at least not real enough to have a desire to die to get there. In fact, if heaven was real, death of a loved one who was a Christian should be a time to celebrate and have a happy, going-home party. And likewise, when a non-believing loved one dies, that should be a time of mourning, wailing and great sadness.

If the spiritual speculation in this post could somehow become realistic to Christians, and if Christianity per se would devote prime time to the things of God, that would give us a more honorable reputation instead of being looked upon by many as a bunch of hypocritical scumbags.

The most helpful way to make heaven really real is to meditate on it as much as possible. Of course, if one doesn’t have any immediate needs in his/her life because things are going great on earth (the good life), there is little incentive to leave the temporal joys of earth to get to heaven. Luke 6:20. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” For heaven’s sake.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

# 149: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One of the main reasons God is not real to many people, though they may claim to believe that God exists, is because He is invisible. It is extremely difficult to believe something actually exists in an invisible, enigmatic realm that is totally foreign to human beings. For that reason God is not a source of benevolent influence, even to those who claim to be Christians, since He is not the dominate theme on their minds. Since God is invisible, the only way to take-up the slack as a means of making God a real, living, dominate entity, is to have Christ-like faith/belief.

Along with faith and belief, when one uses plain old fashion LOGIC, the visible worlds provide persuasive evidence to the existence of some sort of invisible, intelligent, supreme force or energy. As I have written numerous times in this blog, something as complex and gigantic, to say the least, as our universe, COULD NOT have come into existence on its own, and for no apparent reason. And more convincing evidence is the formation of life, creating itself, out of nonliving chemicals, etc., and for no apparent reason, just by chance. For the intelligent and scientific community to believe the above scenarios without any concrete theories on their genesis is hard for many to comprehend.

Then some wise guys/gals will ask, “Where did this force you call God come from?” This is my response: “Before I answer that question, I want you to make me any type of ‘physical matter’ out of nothing. When you have accomplished that tricky feat, I will tell you where my God came from.” I actually believe that the majority of people, even some nonbelievers, secretly believe there must exist some sort of metaphysical, supernatural power, because it is only logical, based not only faith but also on the aforementioned, apparent impossibilities.

Now, to get back to everyday matters: Since God is shrouded in mysticism, His abode (heaven) is also a place of misunderstanding and uncertainty, when it comes to what heaven is like. The question I ask is this: since heaven is portrayed as the epitome of bliss, why is it, so many, if not all, Christians want to go to heaven, but few if any want to die to get their? There are several possibilities: 1) Many will say they are not afraid to die, but not right now. 2) They are not certain they will be going there; possibility hell is waiting for them. 3) They don’t know if there really is a heaven; what hard evidence, other than faith, is there that heaven really exists? Maybe it’s all a big hoax? 4) Their lives on earth are going so well; how could heaven be any better. 5) They may believe their time has not yet come. 6) Afraid of the unknown. 7) The most legitimate reason is for parents who still have young children to raise. I am certain there are many other personal reasons for wanting to avoid death. What is the reason you want to go to heaven, but don’t what to die just yet to get there? Give yourself an honest answer. If you want, leave a comment. Of course, we can understand why agnostics, and the like, don’t want to die; for them, physical death is the end of everything.

Since the majority of the world’s population believes in the existence of a benevolent God, why is this world so full of people who live such ungodly lives (God is, little or, no part of why they do, what they do) ? One reason is; out of sight, out of mind. God does not have an impact on how they live their lives, repeating, because God, and what He stands for, is not on their minds; their minds are on worldly matters. That may be the main reason those who claim to believe in God, in their hearts don’t believe God is relevant as to what they do. Most won’t admit it, but God has little influence on their lives. Remember, whatever people thinks of/on the most is what controls their lives.

I truly don’t believe most Christians know what God expects from them. That is the main reason for ‘Religion’s Crime Against God” and this post. First of all, they don’t take God seriously. He is just a free-pass to eventually go somewhere they don’t want to go, at this time. Other than that, I don’t know why they say ‘they believe in God.’

The most provocative verse in the New Testament consists of only two words, “pray continually;” 1st Thessalonians 5:17. Who is capable of living life on this earth and still obey that command? Why did the Apostle Paul write such a command? Either he was deranged or actually knew what he was talking about. The reason was, and more-so, still is, as previously mentioned, our lives are controlled by what we think. What percentage of our waking hours are our minds on Godly matters? This is an incriminating question. That question will verify what was written in the above paragraphs, that our devotion to God may be nothing more than a lot of Sunday morning gobbledygook.

Again, the question comes down to: do we take God seriously? The stark evidence is the ungodly condition of Americans and most likely the world. Need proof? If you watch any TV, you know what I mean: Mind boggling trash. Can you believe the “American Idle” recently got more votes then the last national election. TV is an accurate barometer of where the majority of Americans have their minds. Shame on a people who have printed on their money, “In God We trust.” No one can make a fool of God and get away with it forever. Are we Americans making a fool of God? Good question. The New Testament has the answer. I am certain God is jumping with joy over our great “Godly” country. I am being factitious.

Here is another topic I have written on extensively, and will be repeating myself, because it will have an impact on this subject: ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” This subject will elaborate what was mentioned in the third paragraph # 4: ‘Their lives on earth are going so well; how could heaven be any better.’ When a person is living the good life, this is what happens: God is put on the back burner. Out of sight out of mind. That good life is exactly what most Americans are seeking. That is what our capitalistic form of government was based on: wealth and prosperity. Wasn’t it Benjamin Franklin who was influential in the creation of our Constitution? Wasn’t it he who made-up the famous cliche concerning life’s values “Healthy, WEALTHY and wise”?

Wasn’t it upperclass aristocrats who made up and signed our constitution? They were creating a democracy not a theocracy. How dare they incorporat God in our constitution while ignoring what God’s Son teaches. Did they know what Jesus Christ taught in the New Testament? God has only to do with theocracies. A democracy that is formed by the upperclass is not a true democracy, regardless how many checks and balances it may have. It always was and still is a government: Of the people, by the people, for the rich. The present White House with Bush in control is all the evidence we need to see what happens when the rich, greedy, heartless, and stupid get in control. I will continue to write about this man, because to him, God is out of sight, out of mind.

Bush is a rich ungodly man, who claims to be a born-again Evangelical Christian. How could that be? He is a liar, a cheat, and a murder of several thousand of our fighting boys and girls, not to mention the thousands of Iraqis still dying, along with the thousands on both sides permanently wounded; and let us not forget the thousands of weeping widows and widowers, children now with only one parent, both Americans and Iraqis. I can hear their cries: “I want my daddy, I want my daddy,” or “Where is my mommy; orphans “I want my mommy and daddy back, please give me my mommy and daddy, I love them.” These children were robbed of something (a genetically alike father and/or mother) that never can be replaced the rest of their lives, even after Bush is dead and gone, which can't come soon enough–I write these words with tears in my eyes because these little-ones don’t understand. Along with that, the broken hearted mothers and fathers and all the other human carnage including both Iraqis, Americans, etc.

Bush also is a thief, robbing Americans by putting us in debt to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. For him to start this stupid and unnecessary war is a disgrace to this country, and for the real Christian community. In short, our Commander in Chief is personally responsible for all this harm and heart break, with still much more to come. For that and more, he is the modern-day chief devil of devils, in the flesh. I would love to take credit for writing this last sentence, but I can’t, because it came straight from Jesus Christ Himself--Checkout the Table of Contents # 135 on the beast. His # is 666--The most disgraceful stigma Bush is responsibility for is that he gave the world-at-large, an ugly picture of what America/ns are like.

Getting back to how wealth, especially in America, takes control, when God is out of sight, and out of mind. Isn’t if funny concerning how we Americans love to be wealthy–-no it isn’t--that’s the exact opposite of what Jesus Christ teaches in the New Testament. The complete New Testament hasn’t one good word concerning the desiring for or having material or financial wealthy. There are several dozen New Testament verses telling the harm of wanting to be rich, or actually being well-off. I will mention only a few. Mark 10:23. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 1st Timothy 6:9-10. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. [Of course, most “christians” who have wealth will adamantly deny they love money]. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Luke 6:20. “ Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” James 2:5. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him.” Again, there are many, many other verses that corroborate the above; in essence saying the same thing. Here, most likely, is reason the poor are better candidate to enter God’s kingdom: Since life, genetics or environment has treated the poor and misfortunate segment of society cruelly, they may have a greater desire to be looking for anything better than this life.

Whenever I bring up this topic, I receive more non-biblical flack than any other subject. There are many reasons wealth and the desire to be prosperous is damaging, if not deadly, to the Christian; the biggest damage is that it puts God in second place, out of sight, out of mind, if even that, as to life’s values. The best, if not the only way, this anti-prosperity teaching is countered by its church-going opponents is to bring up a few rich characters in the Old Testament like Abraham, though a man of faith, was a liar; Solomon, a womanizer; Job was one person with character. Jesus Christ clarified the Old Testament belief that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing–Click on # 116. “What Money Can and Cannot Buy.” In almost ever case, it failed to produce character and loyalty. Hosea has this to say when people are content with worldly security: Hosea 13:6. “When I fed them, [Israel] they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Did we in America put God out of sight, out of mind (forgot God)?

God does not, cannot and will not play second-fiddle to anything or anyone that replaces devotion and obedience to Himself. Almighty God is number one, and must be worshiped as such. As I mentioned previously, Jesus Christ turned most of the world’s values upside down, although many “christians” who blend in very nicely with the ungodly crowd, won’t acknowledge that fact. Let me ask you a hard question: Can you distinguish Christians from pagan nonbelievers, after checking-out where they live; what is of importance to them; the type of vehicle/s they drive; their investments and financial statements; what type of pastime activities they engage in; the type of TV they watch; the sports they follow, etc. I will bet my bottom dollar there isn’t much if any difference between the two groups.

If the above sounds ridiculous to you, prove me wrong according to the New Testament. If you can’t, you better change your ways or else. This glorification of Christ-like poverty and degradations of wealth does not play-well in America nor the world, regardless what the Christ or this post teach. As you can tell, Jesus Christ nor this blog plan on winning a popularity contest. What is written in this blog may be the cause for the final damnation of our great, wealthy, and powerful country. God forbid. Out of sight, out of mind.