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Looking for God in all the wrong places…

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“He who dies with the most toys wins” in a quote attributed to Malcolm Forbes, a very wealthy man who amassed an incredible collection of homes, motorcycles, and other expensive ”toys”. It’s a quote I’ve heard many times, sometimes in jest, sometimes in earnest conversation.

In our consumer driven society, acquiring “toys” seems par for the course for most of us. Whatever your hobby, it seems as though their is an endless array of necessary choices one must purchase in order to reach a certain level of contentment.

Therein is the rub, of course. At what point in our lifetime do we reach that magical zone of contentment, where the never-ending quest for more “toys” has been fulfilled?

For some, such as the hoarders depicted in the popular TV show of the same name, contentment is as elusive as stumbling upon a long buried pirate’s treasure chest.

In reality, the wealthy and affluent are not much different. The major difference, if any, would be the quality and cost of the ever growing mountain of “stuff” they accumulate.

What drives us to seek fulfillment and contentment in “things”?

I’ve read a number of scholarly papers and articles on this subject, and there are many different opinions cited as the answer to this question.

No surprise there, is there?

Yet when we take a look at the Scriptures, there seems to be a very logical reason for this type of behavior.

We are looking for God in all the wrong places.

Void of God’s presence in our lives we feel incomplete, unsatisfied, and altogether inadequate. Because the bonds that tie us together with God have been severed by sin, we seek out other ways to replace the spiritual void within us.

So we try anything and everything to fill the emptiness. Except for God, of course.

There is a very real danger in trying to replace God with “stuff”. In fact, Jesus told us to have our guard up against trying to replace the missing relationship we are designed to have with God.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Being constantly bombarded with ads for the newest car,boat,motorcycle or jewelry, one would think that it truly was a matter of “he who dies with most toys wins”.

Jesus shows us the fallacy of such a mindset. It isn’t about what you accumulate in this life that matters most.

What matters most in this life is allowing Christ to fill that void created by our broken relationship with Him.

Where are you looking today to find fulfillment and contentment in life? Is every room in your home jammed to the rafters with inanimate things?

If this describes you, it’s time to stop looking for God in all the wrong places.

You would be amazed to learn that He is nearer than you think!

Be blessed,

Ron

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Give me your tired,your poor….

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Everywhere I look it seems that there are more and more people struggling in this land of plenty. Did you ever wonder how this can be,especially when there is so much prosperity to go around?How did it get this way,and more to the point…how did it get so bad?

Now,maybe you live in an area where everyone is doing very well.Maybe your circle of friends are all enjoying the good life and everything seems to favor you and yours.If that describes you,then this post will not resonate with you at all. For the rest of us however,read on.

The downtrodden and poor have always been a part of communities everywhere,as have the rich and well to do.Fact is,even Jesus acknowledged this when he said:

“For he have the poor always with you,but me ye have not always”. Matt. 26:11 KJV

So the reality of life is that there will always be the poor among us. I get that. I see it all the time. Perhaps you live that reality every single day.

So I wonder,in my own simplistic way,does it really have to be this way in America? In this world? Do we not have enough resources to effectively combat this problem,or is the real issue one of the allocation of those resources?

Before I go any further with this I need to make sure a few things are understood regarding my personal thoughts on this matter.

I do not believe continual handouts are the answer. History has proven that to be true. I know of many multi generational recipients of that type of “support”,all of whom seem to like the system just fine thank you.

Nor do I believe we should take the “Robin Hood” approach and take from those who have worked so hard to suceed in life and give to those who are lifelong “takers”. Sorry if that offends you,but that’s how it is.

So back to this resource thought. It is clear by anyone’s measurement that we have an abundance of riches in this country unlike any other nation on earth. And as such we have a responsibility to use those resources wisely,to allocate them in such a way as to help those who are struggling to reach the next rung on the ladder.

We have an abundance of natural resources such as coal,oil,natural gas,and alternative energy sources.

We raise enough food in this country to be able to export huge amounts of it,even while we pay out billions in subsidies every year to farmers so they will not plant too much(and yes,I like farmers).

Talk about an abundance!!!!

We are told by the media that the working poor suffer the greatest as they are caught in the middle. The don’t make enough to get over the hump,but make too much to qualify for certain assistance programs.It’s a lose lose for them and I feel their pain,as I too was once caught in that trap.

In truth,we in America are all filthy rich by the standards of the majority of the human population.Think about these statistics for a moment: there are just over seven Billion souls living on this planet.Over half of them,or 3.5 Billion of them live in poverty making less than $2.50 a day.What’s even worse is that over 1.3 Billion people live in extreme poverty earning less than $1.25 a day.

Our lifestyles represent a quantum leap away from those of the poor in other parts of the world. Yet for all of that,not everyone enjoys the basics of life in this,the richest country in the history of the world.

So what’s the problem? Why on earth are there so many doing without in this land of riches?

And where is the church in the midst of this problem? Ah yes,the church…

Shouldn’t the church be leading the way in the efforts to build up those who are down and struggling? And yes, I am aware of the many programs that some churches sponsor in an attempt to make a difference in the lives of the unfortunate.

Why has the church been only too willing to allow this to become the problem of the government and not their own?

I know,I know,”we give to missions”is always the answer isn’t it? We support missionaries all over the world and somehow our conscious is appeased and we can sleep well because of it.

Meanwhile the family across town goes hungry,children are forced to eat subsidized lunches and on and on it goes…

Speaking strictly from a Christian perspective,what do we do with all of the money we collect each week? Is it being used for salaries,staff,more building projects,bigger and better programs? What are our priorities as Christians?

Seems like a good spot for a great big ol’ WWJD doesn’t it?

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if the majority of a churches’ budget is being spent to pay salaries and mortgage payments to the bank then we are failing in our efforts to be good stewards of the riches entrusted to us. That’s not what real ministry is folks.

Yes,the poor will always be with us.

But that does not diminish our responsibility to do everything we can to ease their burdens. It does not take away from the fact that the church is responsible,not the government,to see that the poor,the widows,and the fatherless have the basic necessities of life.

On a plaque affixed to the Statue of Liberty is a quote from the poem “New Colossus”,written by Emma Lazarus that perhaps you have heard of:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Many today are tired, poor, and broken in spirit. It is up to all of us to try to make a difference. First,by stepping up to the plate and helping to provide those in need with the essentials.

Secondly,to speak the words of truth and life contained in the Word of God to each person we come into contact with.

Be blessed,and pray for those less fortunate.

Ron