Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 15, 2013

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24
Christian researcher George Barna concludes, "American Christianity has largely failed since the middle of the 20th century because modern-day followers do not act much like Jesus." Research conducted by sociologists and pollsters shows that "evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered and sexually as immoral as the world in general."
Could it be that in our attempts to relate to our culture we have ended up resembling it?
2,000 years ago, Jesus anticipated this likelihood. Of his 38 parables He told, 16 were concerned with how to handle  and possessions. As a matter of fact, Christ said more about money than any other subject. The Bible includes 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 on faith but over 2,350 verses pertaining to money and possessions. The Lord said  a lot about it because He wants us to know how He views this important topic.
To measure how you compare with Jesus' perspective on materialism, ask yourself these questions:
* Do I see other people's stuff and become critical or bored with my own?
* Do I shop for recreation?
* Do I buy compulsively (because I feel like it) without first considering my budget or my need?
* Do I complain a lot about how much I make?
* Do I feel self-conscious when I am around rich people?
* Do I give less than 10% of my income to the ministry of my church?
* Do I get irritated when the preacher talks about money?
Jesus declared you can't serve God and materialism. Only one will be your god.
A serious, humble and honest evaluation of those probing questions will reveal the truth of whom you serve.

March 14, 2013

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Here are some excerpts from Skye Jethani's book "The Divine Commodity":

We Americans are CONSUMED with the CONSUMER mentality! We’re used to choosing whatever gives us the most "perks and bennies" at any given time.

We look for a restaurant with the best price and menu and atmosphere and location. We go to the clothing store that carries our size, has our taste in clothes, and has the best sales. And if we can’t find that in town, we shop online! We want to get our groceries at the place that's close to home with the best prices, best selection and that's not crowded. (Good luck with that!)

A lot of people take that same mentality with them when it comes to choosing a church. In fact, we even call it "church shopping."

If we have little kids, we look for a church with a great kids program. If we don’t have kids, we find a church that doesn’t have a bunch of noisy kids disturbing us.

We look for a building that is simple but not shabby, comfortable but not ostentatious, colorful but subdued, cool in summer and warm in winter, and most of all, already paid for so we don’t have to give to a building fund! (By the way, our building IS paid for, praise the Lord! But don’t get too excited, I’m sure we’ll be starting a building fund soon.)

We want the music enthusiastic but not too loud, energetic but not too fast, contemporary but traditional, soothing but exciting.

We want the preacher to be youthful but not too young, relevant but not trendy, spiritual but down-to-earth, funny but full of gravitas...and most of all, able to give a life-changing message in 20 minutes or less!

And if anything stops meeting our expectations, then before you know it, we’re off "church shopping" again!

But the Church was never meant to serve the consumer mentality. The church is unique in that it is not about serving US, it's about us serving OTHERS. In the church, we are more focused on reaching the non-member than the member...the non-attender than the attender...the seeker rather than the already found-er...the newcomer rather than the insider, the desperately lost rather than the comfortably saved.
Are you caught up in consumerism or are you centered in the cause of Christ?