Sunday, March 02, 2008

I just finished the copyedit on Kingdom of the Occult--thank God. It was a long haul but I'm so glad to see it completed. God is good. So far things are on schedule for the release this Fall, but please pray that everything continues to go well.

I was reading through some files tonight and ran across an article I wrote in 2006. It was a comforting reminder to me of what this life is all about:


We lose what on ourselves we spend;

We have as treasure without end
Whatever, Lord, to You we lend,
Who givest all. --Wordsworth

Money changes people. Fame changes people. I knew someone a long time ago who seemed to be a committed Christian. He seemed earnest and sincere, kind and considerate . . . and then money and fame entered the picture. His focus became the world and all it could give today—not eternity and all it promised tomorrow. His house became bigger; his car became flashier; his name became a phone number; his ministry became a bank. There was a time when he led my little sister to Christ, and listened intently to every word my father spoke. But the things of this world are powerful, and they change people.

I once knew a young couple so full of love and enthusiasm for the Lord. They were in love and recently married, and both possessed great intelligence. They loved my father and worked hard at the tasks he gave them. They were kind and loving; good friends and great spiritual warriors. We trusted them implicitly. And then something happened . . . somewhere their perspective changed, and they turned their backs on my father. They sacrificed loyalty and love, honesty and even basic kindness, for the security of money and influence.

Money and power change people.

When my Dad was alive, he wanted to own a Cadillac in the worst way. He loved cars, but he could never bring himself to buy what he wanted . . . he knew that as a minister of the gospel he could not be seen driving around town in a shiny new Cadillac. He didn't want to set a poor example, and he didn't want to disappoint God.

He started out poor, but then God blessed him, and there came a day when not only could he afford the shiny new Cadillac, but he could afford a big mansion up on a hill. It was tempting, but in the end, he just couldn't do it. You see, it was all about perspective. His eternal perspective—born of love for the Lord Jesus—just wouldn't allow him to buy these things. When he was in his late 50’s, just a little while before he died, he finally bought that Cadillac . . . it was 15 years old . . . but it was a Cadillac and he loved it. He never bought a mansion—just a nice house near the bottom of the hill.

Every day I fight to keep my heart where it should be. We live in an old neighborhood in a little town . . . but some of our neighbors’ houses are beautiful. Some days I think, "It would be wonderful to have a beautiful house," and then I remember the families in Mexico in their little houses made of garbage—so proud to own a home—and I thank God for all the blessings I have.

You see, it really is all about perspective.

Where is your heart? Do you need a brand new car and a brand new house? Do you have to have that diamond ring or Armani suit? Do you need the attention fame can bring? Then your heart's perspective is not an eternal one. In the scheme of eternity, everything this world offers is worthless. Jesus was homeless. Peter and Paul were homeless. I am so blessed to have a home.

If we truly view our lives through God's eternal perspective, our perspective changes and suddenly that extra $100 can buy toys and blankets for the little ones in Mexico. If we see things God's way, that brand new car is a foolish waste of money better spent on widows and orphans; the designer sunglasses are worse than silly pieces of plastic designed to cause envy in others—they're offensive to God. It's all about perspective.

Whenever my perspective starts to blur, and I find myself longing for the things others have, I think of how it will be when I finally stand before the Lord. Will I be delighted because He is delighted in me? Or will I be ashamed—and relieved—to be standing there and not somewhere else? Will He be proud of me or disappointed in me? I couldn't bear either one of the second choices—I want the first. I fiercely want the first, and I will not settle for anything less.

The eternal perspective—born of love—will make all the difference in life, and all the difference in eternity.

A Hollywood celebrity was once asked how he remained so level-headed when other celebrities turned to alcohol and drugs. He answered, "I never believe my own press." Christian leaders need to stop believing their own press. They need to stop spending the Lord's money on lavish salaries, big houses, gorgeous cars, luxury vacations and everything else the world offers. They have lost their way, and in the end, they will be destitute.

Money and fame change people.

In the scheme of eternity, the things we buy for ourselves—the fame we gain for ourselves—all are ashes in the wind. A loving heart, and the joy that love brings to others, these are priceless.


Blogger JohnD said...

Very interesting and thoughtful post.

I was noticing it seems those who truly hold to the word of God are in lamentation mode. Myself included. And given the state of the kingdom these days (having much to do with the subject matter of your post here) there's lots to lament about.

Reading your post two scriptures came to mind.

John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

He knew he could not count on anyone but himself. I try to remain on constant vigil about this with all people including myself... that only Jesus will never let us down. The rest of us will only disappoint (even ourselves).


James 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Money is the proof of the LAW of relativity. For it is relative to the situation. By the same Mexican standards you mentioned in your post we live like kings and queens in this nation. But to anyone in any given situation it is never enough.

I personally do not believe the tithe is New Testament, that cutting God in on a percentage runs afoul of warnings like Luke 12:22-35 and a binary parable (typically divided in two):

Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

We on this side of the cross ought to heed the warnings since we have the fullest information and biblical account that God our MASTER (not our Buddy, not our eternal fire insurance sales rep, and not our good luck charm) our Master requires it all. He is not interested in less.

And we have done worse than the unfaithful servant who buried his talent in the earth... we've taken the talent and invested it in mammon.

And we wonder why the truth is so poorly represented in the world these days. There's a lot of blood to account for at the price of our lavish living.

When I despair that I am now making less money than I have in 25 years and working 60 - 70 hours a week to earn what I get, and as I watch money set aside for corrective surgery dwindle each month as I pay for the rent, and how I am (for the sake of brevity) stuck in California willing to go to the more affordable digs in Texas... and I turn an angry, spiteful eye towards heaven...

I remember how thankful I am to have food on the table, a roof over my head, a job, and though I seem to be in limbo for a time about what to do next, God is with me despite my attitude and foul mouth.

And I remember that I owe ALL to Jesus. ALL to Jesus I surrender. ALL to him I freely give. He is the Master and I the bond slave. And it's high time I remember that!

3:36 AM  
Blogger Jill Martin Rische said...

I understand how you feel, John. We all have those moments when frustrations and worries seem overwhelming. I was talking to the Lord about this the other day, and I felt like He said to me: "You're sitting on the side of a dusty, barren road, crying, when right around the corner is a green valley."

It made me think about things in a different way. He'll never give us more than we can bear, right John? :)

I will be praying for you and your family.

9:17 PM  
Blogger JohnD said...


11:01 PM  
Blogger jandavey said...

This may be off the subject a bit, I simply wanted to offer you some support in your quest to stand up to Craig Hazen and his minions. It is not surprising at all that Craig’s surrogates seem to come after you, literally questioning your standing to criticize or hold accountable the all mighty Craig Hazen. It reminded me of the Pharisees questioning the Jesus about the folks he ate with. I have a different perspective I would like to share on Hazen. I was in his youth when we were both 20 years of age. Back then Craig was all about grandstanding. He was openly snide and often directed his comments to those who disagreed with him. He left the youth group because many in the group refused to buy into some his views. Back then, like now his surrogates questioned our faith because we did not accept him as “the anointed of God.”
David M.

10:00 PM  

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