Monday, August 08, 2005
We're in the lead up to our major youth conference, so I've got rehearsals for that every week. I've missed life group for the past month, due to being in the studio to finish the album within the deadline. Yesterday was a busy day - I was at church from 7:30am -1pm and then from 3pm until nearly 10pm, with our first two evening services. (BTW they went well, but I was exhausted!)
During the second evening service I was reading on in my Bible (I find it hard to sit through the same message twice), and discovered Deuteronomy 8. Over on Ps Phil Baker's blog (www.philbaker.net), there's an intense discussion going on about "prosperity doctrine". Sadly, money has always been somewhat of a sacred cow to churches in the western culture. As far as I'm aware, there's not much in the Bible relating to money being either evil or good. However, there is much to be said regarding what we do with our money. Deuteronomy 8, especially in the latter verses really opened my eyes to the issue of being good stewards with what we're given, and in all things to honour God:
A Call to Remember and Obey1"Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. 2Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commands. 3Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD. 4For all these forty years your clothes didn't wear out, and your feet didn't blister or swell. 5So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you to help you.
6"So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. 7For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in the valleys and hills. 8It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey. 9It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10When you have eaten your fill, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
11"But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and laws. 12For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, 14that is the time to be careful. Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 15Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17He did it so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy. 18Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and he does it to fulfill the covenant he made with your ancestors.
19"But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. 20Just as the LORD has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.
other than the obvious distaste that I feel for such shameless misrepresentation of God, I ask "What about missionaries?", "What about dear, loving Christians who have very little of this world's goods?" does that mean they're not really dialing the right extension to Heaven? does that mean that God doesn't love them and that he ignores them? Then i think of people in the Bible, wealthy people, kings, prominent leaders. . and i have a hard time sorting it all out. . I THINK that if someone is 'rich' with things and money it doesn't mean they don't love God and indeed they can really, really help to serve God with their ample supply. It also doesn't mean the someone poor doesn't love God and that they didn't incur his 'curse', and that they can serve God in very wonderful ways too. . it would seem to come down to the heart. . all the rest can be a distraction and a smoke screen.
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