The Deceitfulness of Riches
Note that this was written while living in Bolivia, in about 2002. Some financial figures are outdated. But the message is not!
And the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. Matthew 13:22
One of the hardest things for a man to admit is "I am deceived". Deceit is deceitful because the deceived person is convinced that he is not deceived. If he realized he was deceived (as a present condition), then it would not be deceit. Eve was deceived by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and was convinced that what God had said was not true. Had you asked her while she was reaching for the forbidden fruit if she was deceived, she would have said, "Of course not. I was deceived before, but now this serpent has become an enlightening angel for me, and has revealed to me the reality of the consequences of eating this fruit."
Had she known the reality and went against what she knew to be truth, it would be recorded of her that she was rebellious against God. But, it is forever written that "the woman being deceived was in the transgression": honestly convinced she was in the right.
Which brings us to a second point of the deceitfulness of deceit: honest people are deceived! In the honesty of her heart Eve was convinced that what God had said earlier was wrong or, at least, misunderstood. And now she had a clearer, better understanding of the situation. The simple statements and commands of God could be laid aside because God really had not expressed the balanced view of the matter. "Hath God said..." "Has he said..." "Has he really meant for you to take literally what he said?" Like, for example, to those that have more than the necessities of life, "Go and sell what you have and give to the poor."
So we come to the second main word of our title. Riches. What is meant by riches?
For me, it is interesting to look at the Scriptures in other languages, especially the original ones. Please do not let this be an intimidation; as if I know something you do not because I refer to the shades of meaning from the Greek. A Strong's Concordance, with the Hebrew/Greek lexicon in the back, will sometimes provide a new thought on a word. I find that many times I read the same verse over and again, and have a rut of explanation and understanding. Then another brother comes along and opens up whole new territory for me; not that my previous thoughts were necessarily wrong, just severely limited. The same happens with the use of reading the Bible in other languages. So, let us look at "riches".
The idea of "fullness" seems to be the basis of the word from the Greek. As long as a cup is only 40%, 78%, or 99% full, it is not rich. But when the water reaches the brim and begins to run down the sides it has become "rich", full. All of its needs have been supplied, and more than the necessary amount has been introduced into it. Whatever from that point on that runs over the lip are the "riches" of that cup. How many times have we sang the little children's chorus, "...my cup is full and running over. Since the Lord saved me, I'm as happy as can be. My cup is full and running over!" This is the "riches of his grace" that we read about in the New Testament! "More than conquerors!"
Back to material riches. And the deceitfulness of them. Perhaps the thought is already running through the minds of some, "Well what is so profound about that. Everybody knows that to have more than you know what to do with is riches." But let us look a little closer at the typical mindset of the average Christian. Without realizing it he has two vessels with his name on both of them.
The first we will put to the size of one pint, and write on it "Brother X's necessities of life". This vessel sits on a little shelf above another vessel so that when it's riches flow over they run into the lower vessel, usually much larger, on which we will write "Brother X's things of life that are nice and not extremely wicked in themselves". On the floor lies the shattered remains of the third vessel that most "Christians" have smashed. It's tattered label reads "Extremely wicked things of life".
Now the mentality is that when the second vessel begins to overflow, "Then your rich!" Interpreted, this means that when a man has all his needs and wants met, and still has money and things flowing out, he has become "rich". There are several deceitful things about this whole set-up.
1. The same serpent that deceived Eve is still alive and working. "And having food and raiment let us therewith be content." "Hath God said...?" Did God really mean to not seek after more than food, water, and shelter from the elements? (The Greek words would indicate "sustenance" and "shelter", those things that are necessary to keep a person alive.) The normal mentality is that as long as the things that are sought for are not "evil" (pornography, ouija board, immodest clothes, etc.), then God surely understands that another pail under the "jar of necessities" is ok. It probably should not be to large, like most of the "world" uses. Instead of a five-gallon bucket, maybe a six-quart pail, and if your conservative, no more than 1 gallon.
But the whole mentality of a "two-vessel for one person" system is contrary to the mind-set of Jesus. In his sermon on the mount (which reveals the principles of his kingdom that he came to establish) he said, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?...and all these things shall be added unto you." In short he said, "Do not worry about sustenance and shelter, I will take care of those things." So, as believers, we are promised to have the first vessel taken care of. And the second? It seems in the mind of Jesus there was no second vessel with "selfishness" written all over it! The second vessel should read "others".
2. Another part of the deceit of the "two-vessels with the same name" mentality is that as long as the second vessel is not as large as the "world's", or that person's, or that other church's idea, then we are probably safe. Deceit!
3. Since the written Word of God does not spell out guidelines for the second selfish vessel (other than not to have it at all), then it is up for grabs as to how large it can be. And so when it begins to overflow, most of humanity just gets a bigger container! Deceit! Deceit! Deceit!
Since practically all who read this will be familiar with the Bible, I will not quote all the scripture references. The parable of the sower is what I want to look at next. From this story comes the title of this writing. Putting the three accounts from Matthew, Mark, and Luke together we find 4 things choking out the seed that fell among the thorns.
1. Cares of this world.
Jesus has told us not to "take thought" about the necessary things of life. The idea seems to be "anxious, worrisome thoughts". Nowhere do Jesus or the first apostles teach a lazy, do-not-work attitude. Paul goes as far as to say that those who do not work should not eat, and that to not provide necessities for the family (when well able to) is a sign of an unconverted man. But it seems that even the necessary things can choke out spirituality. If the necessary things can do this, how much more the "wants"! Jesus warns us, "Now be careful not to let the necessary things of life overtake the spiritual things." Then how much greater risk the unnecessary! Deceit! No wonder he tells us to lay aside the unnecessary things!
2. Deceitfulness of riches.
This could maybe best be illustrated by a question. And the question is to be asked to any typical, conservative North American church by you the reader. Announce that as of today and from here on out, there will be meetings every day at the church-house like they did in the book of Acts, "meeting daily in the temple". If you notice this is not a question, the question has yet to be asked. After one or two weeks of this, which will usually reveal an embarrassingly low number of participants, ask the congregation this simple question: "Why can you not come more often?"
I can almost guarantee to you that the most common answer will be, "I do not have time. I would like to, but I just have to many things to do."
Busy? With what? Providing necessities, or extras?
You see, one of Satan's best kept secrets (in North America) is the deceitfulness of riches. Thousands upon thousands of professing Christians are kept so busy maintaining a covetous lifestyle that they have "no time" to work the harvest fields, and skimpy little time to even maintain their own personal walk with God vibrant and up to date. There are several sub-points to make at this time.
a. Serving God and Mammon. Jesus says clearly it is an impossibility. You can only serve one, or the other. It is impossible to serve both. Impossible. A good question to ponder is, "Who am I serving?" We will skip over the ones who openly profess that to get rich is their goal. While with lip service they may name the name of Christ, it is obvious (probably even to their own heart) that they know nothing of the kingdom of God.
So then, we will consider those who say, "I serve God, not Mammon." And we will look at what might be a typical person that would say such. Married, 5 children, takes part in a local church, self-employed carpenter making $15.00/hr. He has a late model van for the family, a nice pick-up for work, and a smaller "get-around" car. His two older teen-age children each have their personal cars. His 4 bedroom house on 7 acres cost him $50,000, and has central heat and air, wall to wall carpets in most rooms, and of course the two baths have "on-touch" hot water. Each room is amply supplied with furniture, and the closets are full of clothes. And of course the rooms all have electric lights and outlets with the scurry of "things" that need power, including the high-end computer so his wife can e-mail her mother that lives on the other side of the county.
Outside we have the "shop" with thousands of dollars of saws, drills, nailers, and such like. The riding lawn mower, push mower, and weed eater keep the half-acre lawn manicured. A walk behind tiller works the 50 foot by 50 foot garden. And of course I almost forgot to mentioned the attached garage with the automatic door opener. We will stop at this.
What Brother "Normal" does not realize is that he is a servant of Mammon. He may have the knowledge in his head that he is one of the more wealthy people in the world, but this does not affect his life-style. Although he is probably in the top 25% of this world in material possessions, he does not consider himself rich, and openly professes to have no desire to be so either. It seems that since he does not bow down before a picture of dollar bills, he has become assured he is not an idolater.
And how is Brother "Normal" a servant to Mammon? This might be answered in the form of a question. Why does he need to work 30 hours a week to maintain his lifestyle (while bringing in $15/hr)? IN WHAT YOU SPEND YOUR TIME DOING, IN THIS YOU ARE A SERVANT!!! Brother "Normal" has a 25-year loan on his house, and a short-term one on his van. With payments, upkeep, repairs, licenses, insurances, remodelings, and up-datings, Brother Normal will spend a good portion of his time on this earth SERVING A NORMAL NORTH AMERICAN LIFESTYLE!!!
Just how much of Brother "Normal's" lifestyle is really necessary? 90%? 50%? 20%? I do not have a number, but I have to say that Brother "Normal" has been deceived by riches. He is a servant to his things, even though he professes he is not. This profession is from an honest self-assessment of his own heart, but remember what was said at the beginning of this article that honest people can be deceived. Brother "Normal" puts some time in helping in evangelism and such, but "does not have time for to much", because he "has to put beans on the table". His testimonies and messages at church are ok, but never with the depth and anointing of someone that has been with Jesus for an extended time.
I will share here another example of the deceitfulness of mammon. This is a true example with details somewhat changed. Brother Typical bought a $3000.00 RV so he could spend "quality family time" with his children. Since he makes $10/hour, he will need to work 300 hours (not counting the income taxes subtracted from his pay, nor the time spent going to and coming from his work) to pay for this. Divided by 40 hours we have 7.5 weeks. To account for the costs mentioned above we will round it off to 8 weeks or two months. And since licenses, gas, tires, maintenance, and etc. cost him a yearly basis of say $400.00, he will need to work 1 additional week every year to be able to have "quality family time". I in no manner want to condemn "quality family time". What I want to expose is the folly of thinking you need an RV to have it. Brother Typical will spend many weeks of his life busily working to get an equal amount of "quality family time"! Talk about deceitfulness!
What about the billions of people now living that cannot afford a $3000.00 RV? Will they be seriously handicapped in their ability to have "quality family time" for the lack of an RV? Not in a minute! In fact, they can spend perhaps double the amount of time with their families by not having to work to buy an RV! This, my friend, is the deceitfulness of riches!!!
b. Covetousness. One of the weaknesses of human nature is the inability to handle excess of material things. Billions in this world right now live on the basic necessities of life. A primitive shelter, and enough food to stay alive. But they are that way from the lack of opportunity. Give them the chance to earn good wages, like most North Americans have, and they would exhibit the same self-centeredness with their riches that is so apparent in the USA. Give a poor Vietnamese man with a mud hut $50,000 and see what he does with it. Seal up the walls a little, put on a new roof, buy 1 cow, and give the rest to his poor neighbors? Ha! Covetousness is in all of us, the same as it is in all of normal men to have sexual desires.
Most Christian men realize that they are putting themselves in strong temptation to be around pornography. Even though they are born again, the flesh is still flesh, and to be around certain sights stirs up the human nature. So, wisely, they shy away from places that have pornography around.
Part of the deceitfulness of riches is that we think we can handle being around them. But I am convinced that that the dangers of being around pornography and the dangers of having extra money are almost equal. For me, it is a big temptation to spend for something selfish when I have the money. "Well, it is useful (and not a total waste), and I have the money... I think I'll just go ahead (even though something does not seem perfectly right)." If I did not have the money my thoughts would have been, "Well, it would be nice, but I do not have the money. I do not really need it anyways."
Covetousness, and buying things for ourselves that we really do not need, springs from our self-centered nature. By nature we think of ourselves first, not of the brother on the other side of the world that lives in a mud hut and has no opportunity for material advancement: he dreams of the day when he can save enough money to buy his own personal hymnal! The deceitfulness of riches catches us by this, and by living in a society that accepts as normal what is really extravagant. So we go ahead and buy, and do, and serve our desires. Deceived, of course...thinking we are not covetous or rich!
c. One of the most common misconceptions about modern evangelism and mission work is that the work of God is being greatly hindered for lack of funds. "Our building fund needs $8,000, please prayfully consider this". "The Jeep needs new tires, we are praying for funds", etc., and etc.
My heart is saddened to read such accounts. Not for that there are not real needs in this world, but for the pressure that often accompanies such statements. Unsaid, but felt, it says "God's work is being stopped because you are not sticking your hand in your pocket and donating. You will have to give account for this..."
I have never read a history of the church where anyone has charged that a revival would have gone further and longer, but the people began to withhold their money and the revival died out. Did the Anabaptist revival of the 1500's fade away because of lack of funds? Did the Wesleys fail to take their revival as far as they could from a lack of contributions? Did the Welsh revival in the early years of the 20th century stop because they ran out of money? In the book of Acts did Paul ever complain that he could not preach in Spain as he could not afford the ship fare? Nonsense to all of the above. Today, is the world not being evangelized because a lack of funds, or a lack of fire? My answer is the latter.
I say all this in regards to the deceitfulness of riches for this reason. There are multitudes who seem to think that since the biggest need of evangelistic efforts is money, they will throw themselves into their business or job, work over-time, and etc. so as to help the cause of the gospel in this manner. I make a loud, long peal on the trumpet at this point. Let everyone who feels this is his calling in life be very, I repeat, very sure he has a direct call to do this. Before he begin such a direction, let him make sure that God has specifically and directly called him to thus position. Let him make sure that it is of the same clarity of call that it would take for him to sell everything and head out for Timbuktu.
Why do I make such "strong" statements? Because it seems that most of those who are "staying by the stuff" are being deceived by riches, and are not really pouring out their life for Christ. Instead of funneling these riches to the needs that really do exist, these riches spill over into the can of "MY things in life that are nice but not necessary". Then along comes another plea from some mission, "Our building fund in village X could use some help, please pray about this...". And into the pocket goes the hand, and out comes a few dollars. The conscience is soothed, on both parts (home and abroad), that the work of God is now progressing happily along.
In saying all this, let it be added that there are those who are truly pouring out their life by staying home and supporting the work. They give, not only of their "wants", but at times even of their needs. They have calloused knees for reasons of spending a lot of time on them. God bless such ones, even though they are pitifully few. God have mercy on the rest.
Some time back I had the privilege of going on an evangelistic outreach in a third-world country with some of the native Christians. I was the only North American, and the only one with some money to speak of. But the lack of my presence would have not stopped the outreach.
Five men wanted to go. The goal was a community of unreached people probably 40 miles away. The evangelists were poor, with unfinished adobe houses. The pastor had a motor bike. The others had to find another way there. As they had little money, two went by bus part way (getting about $2 each from the pastor for the fare as neither seemed to have their own free cash), and then walked the remaining 6-8 hours. The other two borrowed horses and rode all day, and then some. When the motorcycle broke down, the pastor finished the last 8 hours walking. They took a couple of kilos of rice, some bread and a home-made looking .22 rifle to hunt for meat (with what was probably all 8 or so of his bullets). They slept on the ground. They sweated and took baths in the creeks. And they preached Jesus to people who had hardly heard much of him before. The five day venture for the five men probably cost them $20.
It seemed they had a fire in them to share what God had done for them. Deliverance from drinking, fighting, partying... And so they went, even though they "could not really afford it". Dear friends, I tell you this to share with you that the need of the world today is not funds, but fire. It would be more correct to have 10% stay home and 90% go forth to the fields rather than the opposite. I do not know the exact figures, but 90% at home (living in luxury) seems close. Do not let the pleas for money lure you into staying home and putting a little of your riches in the plate. If God clearly and specifically calls to that, then by all means stay home and burn out for Jesus there. Always remembering that Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world..."
3. Lusts of other things.
Unfortunately, the word lust is not used in modern English like it was 400 years ago. So we read a verse about "lusting" after things and it does not sink in to deep it seems. "Lust, well of course that means some strong, almost overwhelming desire." The Spanish version often uses the words "deseo" which is simply desire. We would say in modern English "want". The "I want this and that..." I can remember as a young boy going through the Sears and Roebuck catalog with my brother page by page. On each page we would each pick one item that we wanted the most. Obviously this is the extreme opposite of the life of Jesus. But not so obvious is the "want" that we often have as adults. Why do you look at the ads in the newspaper? Do you need something? Or, want something? God forbid that any lady naming the name of Jesus would do this, but why do women like to go window shopping for the fun of it? Do we have a necessity, or "want" other things besides sustenance and shelter?
4. Pleasures of this life.
Let us return to brother "Normal". He has a 17 year-old son that likes to deer hunt. This young man bought a $150 gun, licenses, and some special camouflage clothes, and then spent several days enjoying his "hobby". He missed a couple days work, and of course two Sundays and 4 midweek meetings of the gathering of the body to edify itself. He also enjoys music and bought himself a $300 sound system for his room, and $125 one for his car; plus a scad of cassette tapes at about $8 a whack. Since it was all acapella "gospel" singing, and his hobbies are "clean", nobody said anything or warned him that his "pleasures of this life" are choking out the fruit of an anointed life with God. He is already deceived by material things and is fast becoming a servant to them (if not already), following the steps of his father.
Let this truth be blasted forth on the trumpets of the watchmen. The "clean" "pleasures of this life" are more deceitful than the "unclean". Everyone knows that smoking crack cocaine is harmful to your spiritual life. But what about a "clean" hobby that chokes out a life with Christ? Does it really matter what chokes out an anointed relationship with the God of Heaven: crack cocaine, or shotgun shells and cassette tapes? How many tens of thousands have been deceived by these "innocent" things?
The Economics of Jesus
In the mind of many of today's Christians Jesus was an economic flop. Let us look at his management of finances.
1. He practiced community of goods it seems, and put the bag in the hands of a thief. He knew Judas's heart when he was assigned the task.
2. He taught his disciples to pay taxes they did not owe. (Review the account where he told Peter to catch a fish and pull a coin out of his mouth.)
3. Since Peter had to go catch a fish to pay this tax, it seems he lived hand to mouth at times.
4. Since he agreed with John the Baptist's teaching, "let him that has two coats give to him that has none", it would have been his practice. It is doubtful that He had more than one set of outer garments.
5. He never asked for money that we can read of. He would have flunked the modern classes in the seminaries on raising finances.
6. He taught to give and loan without consideration as to whether it would bring a good financial return or not. In fact he taught that it would bring a blessing to share with those whom you know will not be able to repay.
7. He seem to think that money was not a part of the kingdom of God in the sense that he said to give to Caesar the things that belonged to him, and to give to God the things that belong to God. This was in reference to money. Since Caesar made the money, let him have it if he wants it.
The most abused parable
In my opinion one of the most misused parables is the parable of the talents in MT 25:14. Being a good steward of money is not the primary intention of this story, although it touches upon this also. Many seem to think that Jesus is teaching good stewardship of money in the sense that we need to make good investments to be sure we have more to give.
Paul tells us in 1 CO 4:1-2 that we are stewards of what?...the mysteries of God! Then we read in Peter where we are stewards of the "manifold grace of God". (1 Pe 4:10) A good question to ask ourselves is, "what am I doing with the mysteries of God and the grace of God? Burying them beneath the pursuit of one more earthly desire? Or, letting them multiply in the hearts of my fellow man? In LK 12:42+ we find Jesus saying (in essence) that the steward that begins to live a self-centered life shall be "cut in sunder" and put in the same place as the unbelievers. In short, hell. Some will say (I have actually heard this said in different words) that since God is using others (even though these are not sound in the faith) to preach all over the world, there is no need for me to go. Let all who think this turn to MT 25:24-30.
The two men in the parable, who were good stewards of the traveling man's talents, surely did not have as much time to take care of their own present needs. And so it will be with the man concerned primarily with the Gospel. If he has a business or a farm, it will not be in "tip-top" shape according to the businessman's mind. This is not to endorse laziness and willful mismanagement, but only that you cannot (not "may not" or "should not") serve God and mammon. It cannot be done to dedicate yourself to the mysteries and grace of God, and then also to a farm or business. You will either love one or the other, and one will suffer for sure. To try to dedicate yourself to both will ensure that neither will be what they could be, and possibly both will fail completely. If you only seriously consider one point in this article, let it be this: I repeat, it does not say you "may not", neither does it say you "should not", but rather that you "CAN NOT" serve God and material things.
The rich young ruler is ... us!
We are all probably well familiar with the parable of the rich young ruler of LK 18. I will not say much about him here except that he would make the ideal church member of many North American churches. He had excellent morals, and he also was probably a covetous steward in the material realm. Such a man would be a candidate for the ministry in the minds of many. It seems a good supply of material things means leadership qualities. To have a successful farm or business is a sure sign of stability and maturity. The man that stocks groceries at the local IGA always is secondary to the financially "successful" man. Such is the way we tend to think nowadays.
But Jesus rejected this rich, moral man. Or, it is better said, he rejected Jesus. Because you can hardly enter the kingdom with riches. I understand this parable to be primarily speaking of this man's spiritual riches- he felt he had need of nothing; all was well. And until he could add selling his wealth to the rest of his good works and see his innate self-centeredness, he would never enter the kingdom. At the same time, those with the cup of material needs met and running over cannot enter the kingdom until the wealth is released; given up.
The problem now arises. How many churches do you know that have required a brother to give away his riches because he had to many? How many people in all of North America have been disciplined by the church for covetousness? I personally know of only one. Is this because that in North America riches are not a problem? Or rather is it because (as has been said), "It is such a widespread problem that we do not know where to begin!"? If the ministry should approach a brother about covetousness, how many ministers would be able to freely (and truly) confess that they are completely free of it themselves? And so covetousness is slowly and surely choking the richest churches in the world to unfruitfulness.
We have time to make the house a little nicer and larger, time to work to buy more "things", time to sit in our Laz-y-Boy rockers and look at the pretty pictures in Farm and Ranch magazine, but no time to fast and pray and evangelize a world heading en-masse to hell. Think about the parable of the great supper in LK 14. Those invited were to busy to come. There were things that just had to be done. I will shorten the story. Since those invited were to busy, the man found others that were not "busy" to take their place. Do we have ears to hear?
Just to the east of us over the mountain lies a valley forgotten by the world. I'll call it Ingre valley. It has no claim to fame that I know of, and at times is a bit hard to even travel through by motor vehicle. But to the few thousand eternal spirits embodied in flesh and blood that call it home, it is an important valley. We're told that there are still a few families of Guarani people that live somewhere over there who still hunt with bows and fish with spears. First I was told there was no church over there, and then I heard that perhaps there might be. The Catholic priest visits a couple times a year they say. The poor of the valley hardly have Bibles and for that matter someone rarely comes to offer them one. One thing is clear, the valley has never heard, or seen lived out, an example of genuine Christianity of the non-resistant, non-conformed, anointed sort. For that matter we are surrounded here by valleys and towns in the similar situation. Why has no one ever came? Or should I be asking such questions???
"Say, did you here about Brother John's new tractor? Front wheel assist, shift on the fly, 115 horsepower. Loaded! He told me the other day he feels God has blessed him so much. His old one had a bad water pump and he thought this might be a good time to trade it in. The dealer gave him a good price and the bank gave him the money at 7.5% on a 5 year term. His old one also had a bad air conditioner, and the cab sealers were going bad which made it stuffy and dusty during hay season. He said he borrowed a little extra to buy a couple more heifers and hopes by the time he pays off the tractor he can put in the new milking parlor; and with a few more cows be set for life. His boys will be getting older by then, and he figures he'll be able to help them get started. He loves mission work, and even figures that in a few years he might get the opportunity to go on of those short term missions since his boys should be old enough by then to handle the milking and chores by themselves..."
If you keep going east from Ingre valley for a couple hundred miles, you will come to a country of 150,000,000 souls. It is called Brazil. It contains one of the largest cities in the world called Saò Paulo. A few years back, an international news release told how the police went through the city (I can not remember for sure, perhaps it was Río de Janeiro, another large Brazilian city) and shot quite a few of the homeless street orphans like dogs and buried them in a mass grave. The problems with the children were getting to bad, and that was their solution to the problem. Why there are hardly any conservative "Anabaptist" missions in Brazil, and why the Christians were not there with orphanages are more of those nagging questions that maybe I'm not supposed to ask...
"That Brother Fred sure is a gifted fellow. In only two years his mechanic shop is flourishing like everything. Said he bought a new 18hp John Deere riding lawn mower with tiller, and also a weed eater to keep the place cleaned up. Attracts more customers when the place is neat. He also told me Uncle Sam was going to gouge him good if he didn't invest somehow. He stays open until 6 pm every day, six days a week, and this helps with his customer relations as his customers can talk to him after they get off work. It makes him late for mid-week meetings which he hates like everything, but says if your going to make a go of it you have to be there for the customer. He's seriously considering paving his parking lot and his driveway. He plans to use the tiller to till up along the lane so his wife can plant dozens of flowers alongside. He says it will look like a professional place instead of a junkyard and will attract the people who have more money..."
Keep going east from Brazil and you will eventually come to Africa. We'll hop over the mainland for now and land on the island of Madagascar. This has about 11 1/2 million eternal spirits that will spend eternity in the lake of fire or with God in peace. Has the whole gospel of the cross and resurrection ever been preached and lived out in this place? I cannot say, and am sure that some sort of Gospel has been there. Maybe it is another one of those questions I am not supposed to ask, but why can't I have the assurance that Madagascar has congregations of Christians, separated from the world and full of the Spirit of the eternal God, instead of this nagging doubt that no one has ever gone with the full counsel of God???
"Say, did you see Sister Martha's new kitchen? The drain leaked on the sink and rotted out the floor. While they were at fixing it, they decided to just go ahead and put in a new set of cabinets. Troyer Brothers gave them a real good price on their solid oak line and they decided to go ahead. Their old ones had a couple of drawers that weren't working real well, and also they put in 12 feet instead of the 8 that they had. They gave the old ones to the Salvation Army as they were still usable. Martha feels God has blessed them so much. She was almost in tears at the sister's prayer meeting as she was telling about it. She was making the pies for the fellowship dinner and said she was able for the first time in her life to roll out all three crusts for the cherry pies at one time..."
"Wow, did you see that! God just vomited! I wonder why?"
"I don't know, but it seems that cherry pie fellowships don't agree with his stomach or something..."
Please excuse any sarcasm, but God has said if we become lukewarm and unfruitful he will vomit (KJV- spew) us out of his mouth. He that has an ear, let him hear what God is trying to say to his people. The time is short and souls are dropping off into hell every day while we buy tractors and lawnmowers and make our houses all nice and comfy. Either we will do the work of taking the Gospel to the lost, or God will find someone else to do it. We do not have a monopoly on the Gospel that insures that no one else will be allowed to steward it while we bury ourselves in luxury.
WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Jesus is coming for his bride, but not for one that is barren and unfruitful! -Mike Atnip
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