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Materialism, an American Nightmare

Things and activities distract us from the God we could so deeply and consistently enjoy, the God Who makes Himself known to us as good and kind, faithful and forgiving, available to be known and enjoyed for eternity.

It has been weeks since I last posted, and that is because my wife and I have been seeking to live what we know to be true and enjoyable with regard to our finances.  It’s been refreshing to go through Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey once already, and we will be going through the class again starting mid-January.  We don’t agree with every single detail shared in the class, and Dave can come off pretty simplistic at times where more thought could certainly be invested.  However, that’s the point of the class, simplicity early on to get things going steadily in the right direction, toward GIVING and LIVING like you’ve never given and lived before thus far in your/our life.

Money is simply a fluid demonstration of one’s heart.  How we spend money demonstrates how we believe life should be lived.  If we spend every dollar that we receive from the Lord under His kindness, we’re demonstrating that spending is how we believe we can become happy, and yet we come up short with every dollar spent.  Somehow our joy isn’t found in what was purchased or consumed.

Over this last year of 2015, my wife and I have moved twice, both being downsizing moves toward living not only within our means but in the direction of actually being able to pay down our business debts and start to build financial stability and a lifestyle of generosity.  Our move to Twain Harte had good motives, much of my motivation for our move there was to investigate a church plant in my home town.  However, it was a good thing at the wrong time, and therefore it wasn’t what God had in mind for us long-term, at least not starting at that time.  Long-term, I’d still very much love to be involved in church-planting in some way, as well as other efforts around sharing the Good News of Jesus in the world until Christ returns to close out human history and end the sin we see in ourselves and all around us.  Personally, I don’t believe Jesus will return to the Earth in person in my lifetime.  My great-uncle believed Jesus did intend to return in his lifetime, and I respected his opinion.  My opinion really doesn’t matter on this subject honestly.  However, I do think one’s “end of all time” views impact their lifestyle.  My understanding is that we should live like each day is our last in the sense of all-in for Jesus life on mission to KNOW CHRIST and MAKE CHRIST KNOWN with every ounce of our being.  In this sense, I seek to live my life as though Christ could return any minute.  That said, I also seek to live my life as though He won’t come back until after I die.  Why is that?  I want to live my life all-out for Jesus with such passion that my kids want to follow and up the passion in their own lives.

Why am I speaking of all this for a first post in a while and around a post related to money and the United States?  Here in California, we are known for hedonism, all-out living for the moment quite often.  We love to live “the good life” and live it all-out, full of pleasure and rich experiences.  Maybe many of us are like Australians in that sense?  Australians can be found in basically every tourist destination in droves, in my experience, and they have such a rich passion for more and deeper experiences.  California leads the USA much of the time when it comes to setting trends or initiating movements.

My dream would be for my wife and I to join an ever-growing movement of followers of Jesus all through history who have lived all-out for Jesus with rich contentment in the presence and promises of the Redeemer.  Some examples of this would be “reverse givers” who as they have thrived financially have capped their living expenses and given the rest away, even being very careful about wealth distribution to the following generations.  This is not an ideal that I’m promoting as certain and biblically required.  There is grace for varying perspectives on how one’s income and/or wealth should be handled.  It’s not my place nor anyone’s place to tell you in a broad way how income or wealth should be disseminated.  However, I can certainly talk about pleasure and joy that can be found in simple living.

In the United States, even the main-stream popular “Christian” pastors often promote accumulation of wealth as an indication of God’s blessing.  They aren’t the only ones, however.  Popular communicators of all contexts promote comfort and limitlessness as trustworthy and satisfying.  Boundaries that can be and are so enjoyable, such as capping one’s spending and choosing a life of simplicity and giving, relationships over possessions, and conversations like these… These kinds of boundaries are quickly over-looked.

How about news?  News constantly emphasizes the negative and catastrophic, as though this is what we all desperately want to read about and soak ourselves in for meeting our informational needs, as though the loss of wealth or health truly is the most crushing experience imaginable.  What about the loss of your soul or the loss of your good name?

I’d like to lobby for a growth among followers of Jesus in the direction of true and lasting wealth, a wealth of character-building relationships:

  1. An active and growing relationship with God through the Death of Jesus Christ, Life of Jesus Christ in us by the Holy Spirit, and His life present around us through His presence in the lives of other believers in our lives.  An active relationship with God through a prayerful and humble and yet deeply joyful soaking in God’s Holy Word alone and among others including non-believers we are discipling toward regular encounters with Jesus Christ in God’s Word.
  2. Healthy and growing relationships with others, starting with immediate family members and local church family members.
  3. Healthy and growing relationships with community members of all sorts.

Imagine communities where this sort of WEALTH OF CHARACTER-BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS was our mutual and consistent goal INSTEAD OF the almighty dollar as we call it.  Money, again, is simply a fluid demonstration of our heart’s cravings.  So, let’s start taking inventory of both our actual money as well as our emotions, thoughts, intentions, hopes, dreams, and cravings/longings.

Let us, as God’s children, take stock of where we are spending ourselves, and may we humble ourselves before our awesome God, readying ourselves for His true and eternally-satisfying blessing as we encounter GOD IN PEOPLE more than THINGS & ACTIVITIES.

God makes Himself very knowable through His various means, especially through loving others and encountering Him in His Word with those of our local churches.

Your brother and friend,


1 reply »

  1. A friend of mine, Mike, wrote this recently and I wanted to put it here with his permission. Thanks for contributing, Mike! Well done!

    By Mike Simeone

    Man is so easily corrupted by money, and power. To the point where they cannot even relate to themselves, to the point to where they can’t see the their reflection when gazing into a mirror.
    Where only either: war, pain, or sufferring unites brother to brother and sister to sister. You may call me ignorant; I believe in Jesus not paper that comes and goes, or a bottle that gives me temporary blindness.
    Let me ask you one thing, when is the last time the road to success or money has forgiven you as Jesus who died for you, and proclaims to be king? When is the last time these things have showed you kindness?
    Everyone worships something, the list seems to never end, but stems from: power, greed, and sex. You say you can’t believe in someone who has “done you wrong” but you sacrifice more time, and every last dime for a sweet honey to give you nothing more than a run for your money. So why not bow to the One who died for our souls well being?
    Refocus, you require the bigger picture. Your so focused on what is behind you that you crash and burn. The ability to discern goes out the window nobody except you is the concern. You trip, fall, and twist your perception of God, that is the worlds deception. Straying you away with what everyone else is saying because they have degrees doesnt mean the understand the Bible’s decrees.
    Humans tend to lose sight of your origin of desire, just as scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit whom which we all desire. Becoming blind to the things we see clearly, in result of power, money, and things that make us weary. When we find ourselves at the point of no return we point the finger to God above in the midst of pain, sufferring, if you have noticed you have a choice whether at peace or at war.
    Turning to him when we stumble.
    You are united with God and you feel the earth beneath your feet give way, and crumble. It is for the good because it builds resilience and your life shines through His brilliance. It holds its worth more than the dollar bill, It’s more potent than a pill, and last longer than that temporary thrill, nothing is sweeter than following His will.
    In fact Jesus experienced a similar act, within the desert he suffered, as tears of blood drip down His brow. He cried out, “Father in Heaven if it is Your will, take this cup from me. Just like us, he cried out why, and how can this be.
    He asked for mercy as he cried out to His Father in Heaven.
    It may be because we feel unworthy, maybe something bad has happened to you and you question His validity and truth. Can’t you see?
    If you trade life for any of these things: pleasure, power, and money something that has less worth than inflation of a dollar bill…. why not sacrifice your own will to The Him who was beaten and Spit in His face.
    The Savior who died in our place. Who died for the human race. Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
    It’s sufferring that unites brother to sister. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t act upon chance, or roll the dice. He looked upon the human race and forgave in the midst of humanity’s suffice.
    While the blood that covered his face, the nails that pierced his hands doesn’t define His race. But the fact that he conquered death and offers serenity, offers grace. You don’t have to finish in first place, His love is great, He offers a new embrace, instead of something you chase which makes you numb. He gives you meaning, and; he gives you purpose.
    Surrender, stop trying so hard to maintain your anger. Surrender let your life, allow it to be undertaken instead of a bottle that leaves you forsaken. Don’t have me mistaken we are all human we are not perfect, but our Savior is.

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