Posted in discernment, false teachers, lucre, prosperity, root of all evil, treasure

The lure of the lucre: false religion is big business

Money brings with it the lure of the world and what it has to offer. We are from heaven, sent into the world (John 17:16) but we are not to be conformed to the pattern of it while we are here. (Rom 12:2).

Kudzu enveloping and choking a tree

But we need to live, eat, work, raise families. And for that, we need money. We need to be part of the world’s economic system in some degree.

Being part of an evil world system through employment, or pension, or financial investment, means we have to make decisions at all times to refrain from being drawn in and compromising our biblical principles. Lydia of Acts 16:14 seems to be one of the people who was involved in a business which brought much money (seller of purple, quite expensive) yet retained her fervent love of the Lord. We know she was successful at this because she had a large enough home to host gatherings and hosted a home church. It seems from the few gleanings we can read in scripture, that once Lydia found Jesus, she used her means to further the kingdom instead of having a divided heart or worse, succumbing to the world like Demas did. (2 Timothy 4:10). She was in the world, but not of the world.

The boat is supposed to be in the water, but the water isn’t supposed to be in the boat. ~Alistair Begg

Ananias and Sapphira became entangled in the world system of the love of money, briefly but eternally. In their real estate transaction, they succumbed to the lure of the lucre and kept back some for themselves, even though they had promised God to give it all to Him. God doesn’t require all, but their broken promise meant that they were like Mrs Lot, looking back and not putting Him first. They were hypocrites. (1 Tim 6:10).

The love of money and Christianity do not mix. The love of money and false religion are a perfect match. For the non-Christian, false religion can bring in big bucks, incredible bucks. False religion is a blockbusting money-maker. Let’s look at a few instances of this from the bible.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” Acts 16:16-20).

First, the most literal and obvious part of the verse is that the slave owners were raking in the money by farming out this girl in fortune telling. Just as fortune-telling is lucrative now, it was then. Why does fortune telling make so much money? It plays into the emptiness of the world system and of the individual heart. People have eternity in their hearts, (Ecc 3:11) know God exists, (Romans 1:19), have a conscience (Romans 2:15) and yet suppress all that and go seek temporal to fill the vacuum things anyway. False religion is only too happy to oblige.

“Anyone that has a deep longing for true happiness is unsatisfied with any material thing, things which cannot quiet the heart.” John MacArthur

Secondly, the false religionists do not care about you. I repeat, they do not care about you. They don’t care about your well-being, your spiritual growth, your emotions, your self-esteem, or your happiness. At all. The slave owner knew their girl was possessed. How horrible to be possessed! Yet do the false religionists care about her as a person? No. They wee only angry their money-making enterprise was destroyed.

Third, false religionists are liars. They said among themselves that they were angry their hope of gain was gone. But do they say that when they go to court? No. They lie and they present a false front of caring for “the city” and its laws.

Let’s look at another instance which shows the incredible money-making potential of the false religions.

Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:18-19)

This occurred in Ephesus.

Acts 19:19, Ephesian Book Burning. Artist unknown

The total of the books burned from just this one segment of the population of the city, not even the whole of the city, toted up to 50,000 pieces of silver! This is a staggering amount of money. Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver. According to Thucydides, a drachma or silver piece was approximately a day’s pay for a skilled laborer. So 30 pieces of silver would be comparable to 120 day’s wages. The people in Ephesus spent roughly 200,000 day’s wages on false religion materials!

Fifty thousand pieces of silver is a monumental amount of money to be investing in false religion materials! People are financially supported by false religion to a degree that not only is seen then, but is seen now. The false religionists deeply care about their money, very deeply. Remember, the love of money is the root of all evil.

One more. Also from Acts 19 verses 24-25,

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. (Acts 19:24-25)

Once again, we see that their first concern is that they have obtained wealth. In the Greek it’s “Our prosperity depends upon this business.” Their first thought is always money.

Second, notice that the verse mentions with the workmen in similar trades. In Greek it’s ‘of similar kind.’ There are the idol makers like Demetrius, shrine makers, amulet makers, magic arts bookbinders and scribes, potion purveyors…the list goes on. If you walked into any Christian bookstore looking for a bible, think of all the OTHER stuff that goes along with it. Bible covers, bookmarks, highlighters, CDs, etc. In  any religion there is always the main stuff to buy and then all the extra stuff to buy. False religion was a huge business in Ephesus.

Third, if you read in the next few verses, Demetrius said that these men from The Way are putting a dent in our pocketbooks, and plus, oh yeah, they are besmirching the name of Artemis. Since their first thought is always gain, the caring about Artemis is secondary and a cover. We know it’s a cover because of the example above. The aggrieved slave girl owners first stated they lost a lot of money but when they went to the court, they put on a show of mourning over the upset city inhabitants and the civil law. The Artemis lovers cared first about their money and secondarily about the goddess- only then as a means to an end. The end being their pocketbook.

Fourth, after Demetrius did his damage, the city was riled up. The rabble eventually made their way to the amphitheater, but get this,

Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. (Acts 19:32).

They didn’t know why they were mad or against who! They didn’t even know why they were there! They were truly a rabid dog, mindless crowd, not caring one bit about Artemis until they were told to. (Acts 19:33-34).

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:10)

One note before I close. There is nothing wrong with being rich. Sometimes God blesses us with means so that we can further His kingdom like He did with Abraham, Job, Solomon, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Lydia.

However, the love of wealth is:

tempting (1 Tim 6:9)
a snare (1 Tim 6:10)
deceitful (Matthew 13:22)
ruinous to households (Proverbs 15:27)
disqualifying men for leadership (1 Timothy 3:3)
unrighteous (Luke 16:22)
A false god (Matthew 6:24- Mammon!)

If money is the root of all kinds of evil, then money and false religion are made for each other because false religion is a high evil and money will be the root of it.

The lesson is, never underestimate the tentacles of money in false religion’s purveyors and how committed to money they are to it, how sneaky they are to maintain it, and the depths they will descend to in order to keep it.

Make your decisions wisely, don’t get caught in a money trap. Heed the many admonitions in the Bible. Loving money too much will cause you to make unrighteous decisions, as it did for Ananias and Sapphira. As for those who purvey a false version of Christianity, they do not love you. They do not care for you. They put on a false front, a big ole Texas smile, sisterly jokes about big hair, intimate  confessions of past trauma, but at the root of it, all they want is money.

Smaug the dragon protecting his treasure in The Hobbit movie. LOTR wiki.

But for us,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
(Matthew 6:19-20)

And where the most precious treasure of all abides: Jesus

Posted in church, doctrine, prosperity

Phil Johnson: Did God Promise Health and Wealth?

This week I’ve had a burden for the evangelical church. Today I wrote a long essay about the Roman Catholic Church’s infiltration to the last religious battleground, the evangelical church. What sparked this burden is the speed with which the RCC has infiltrated Protestant evangelicalism with their doctrines of demons, and how many evangelical leaders have fallen under Rome’s sway.

It has been a tough week. Reading about Franklin Graham’s partnering with Pittsburgh’s Bishop Zubik and the many attendees at the Graham Crusade who were directed to the Catholic Church next door pained me deeply… learning about the RCC’s ‘new evangelism’ into Protestant waters starting wit its leaders shocked me … and Victoria Osteen’s blasphemous comments to 16000 applauding goats that’s circulating among social media angered me much … all caused this deep burden I feel for the shrinking organization we know as the evangelical church.

The Osteen 38-second video is above so you can compare her words with the words I’m going to post next.

Phil Johnson

As I prepared to make a pot of soup to end this Labor Day weekend, I searched for a sermon to listen to. I decided on Phil Johnson’s latest sermon at Grace Life (the small group section at MacArthur’s Grace Community Church). Though the Osteen video came out after his sermon, Pastor Johnson could have been saying these exact words directly to Mrs Osteen:

Churches worldwide are full of people who aren’t the least bit interested in scripture, or doctrine, or truthfulness. They just want to have a good experience and feel good about themselves. More than that, they want to hear that God feels good about them, and that He exists to do their bidding.

In general, imagine my happy shock and surprise to hear that my burden for the evangelical church was shared by Johnson and his articulation of it was (not shockingly) much better than mine-

Did God Promise Health and Wealth?

Unless you live in total isolation and never read any news about the church and our testimony to the wider world, you must be aware that the evangelical movement worldwide is currently undergoing a doctrinal and philosophical meltdown of catastrophic proportions. By any measure you could possibly employ, the evangelical movement right now is more backslidden and more spiritually bankrupt than medieval Catholicism was just before the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. The evangelical movement of our generation has become a monstrosity. Doctrinal, moral, and political corruption are the rule rather than the exception, and some of the largest and most visible evangelical and charismatic churches today are populated with people who absolutely love to have it that way.

Of course, it is not good that the evangelical church is in such catastrophic disarray. But I am relieved to see that the extreme burden I’ve felt for the evangelical church is not unwarranted.

My opinion-conclusion from what I see for the evangelical church was that it is the last days with the Tribulation church forming right before our eyes. Though Pastor Johnson didn’t speculate into the Tribulation, he did say,

“I would go so far as to say the desperate need for critical thinking and careful discernment has never been more urgent.”

“Contrary to the way most people today like to think and act, we desperately need clear boundaries and careful watchmen who are willing to speak plainly and wield the sword of God’s Word wisely for the protection of the flock and the preservation and proclamation of sound gospel truth. We especially need people skilled in discernment now.”

Please enjoy his sermon. It is a refreshing teaching on exactly what is wrong with the Prosperity movement. he said we all enjoy an uplifting sermon for edification but sometimes reproof and correction are needed just as much. You will be educated, blessed, and at the very least, will know how to respond when someone charges you with being “mean to the brethren.”

Posted in abu dhabi, prosperity, uae

A chicken in every pot and a mosque on every corner

Though the ‘chicken in every pot’ slogan is attributed to Herbert Hoover, he never actually used it, exactly. The Republican party did. The Hoover campaign used a variety of slogans in 1928 including “Vote for Prosperity.” This source explains that “During the presidential campaign of 1928, a circular published by the Republican Party claimed that if Herbert Hoover won there would be “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” America was at the height of an economic bubble at the time, ensuring a landslide victory for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith. Prosperity was at its peak.

However, the October 1929 Wall Street crash, occurring only 9 months after Hoover’s inauguration, ensured a defeat in 1932, where Americans felt Hoover had not been effective in halting the nation’s downward economic slide. Franklin Roosevelt won.

I think every president has promised prosperity in some way or another. It is always an attractive promise. (“Four more years of the full dinner pail” — 1900 U.S. presidential slogan of William McKinley”, “Peace and Prosperity — 1956 U.S. presidential campaign slogan of Dwight D. Eisenhower”, “Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?” – presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan”, “It’s the Economy, Stupid” 1992 campaign slogan of Bill Clinton’s campaign). I mean, who doesn’t want a full dinner pail and a new car? Promising prosperity works.

After move to $10.5 million River Oaks mansion, Joel Osteen offers Tanglewood land for $1.1 million
“At Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen proclaims,”It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty.” The pastor of the Houston megachurch and wife Victoria certainly practice what they preach. The couple has moved to a $10.5 million mansion in River Oaks, while keeping their former Tanglewood residence, valued at $2.9 million. They are, however, selling a vacant lot next to their former home. Asking price for the half-acre property at the corner of Doliver and Sherbrooke: $1.1 million.” Below, Osteen’s house

In this generation, the preachers of Christianity have caught on to that fact, so they promise prosperity too. Get that lucrative job, find that mansion house, receive that promotion, plant a seed and receive a blessing 100-fold. Prosperity works. After all, you can have Your Best Life Now if you only follow these 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. (Joel Osteen). “Churches” started to grow. Immature believers and non-believers took that for proof that the prosperity preachers were preaching rightly, and flocked to see what they could get out of it. The goats stormed the castle and now they are all milling around the courtyard, looking for more. They are so busy naming and claiming it they do not see that the gates to the inside of the castle are still closed to them.

Name-it claim it prosperity preaching is unbiblical. “Jesus did not come to give us health, wealth and happiness now. He came to save us from our sins so that we can have an eternity of bliss with Him. Following Christ is not a ticket to all the material things men desire in this life but a ticket to eternal life. Our desire should not be to have our best life now but should be that of the Apostle Paul who had learned to be content “in whatever state I am” (Philippians 4:11). [source]

In the Middle East,the United Arab Emirates decreed a “New set of guidelines for mosques in Abu DhabiPlaces of worship to be within five minutes’ walk from every home in the capital

The article explains, “Abu Dhabi: Worshippers in Abu Dhabi will soon be no more than a five-minute walk away from the nearest mosque, as a new set of regulations requires a mosque within 350 metres of every home. … The guidelines have been developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), and they aim to ensure that mosques of appropriate size with high standards for hygiene and maintenance are adequately distributed across the emirate.”

Source

Though the UAE Federal Constitution declares that Islam is the official religion of the country, the UAE has traditionally left other religions alone, allowing congregants to worship in their own way, for the most part. There are some restrictions however. Proselytizing is banned. In general, Christians are allowed to worship as they please.

However, this new emphasis on a mosque on every corner, and it should LOOK like a mosque, too, may be a harbinger of coming change. This article explains some of the reasons for the design standards and the distance requirements:

Source

“We decided that mosques must be 350 metres within every home as this distance can be covered in a five-minute walk, which is the shortest time between the call to prayer and the start of the prayer,” Al Hammadi explained. The second section concentrates on design recommendations. “For example, the areas containing toilets where worshippers can wear their shoes will be clearly distinct from the ablution area, where worshippers must remove their shoes.”

In either case, the prosperity preachers or the Islamic governments, the emphasis is the same, and both are wrong. The emphasis is on the external.

In the case of the mosques, there is concern for how the mosque looks, there are “shoe zone and non-shoe zones,” and whether there are enough bathrooms for ritual washing.

“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”…But Jesus said “And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:1-2, 10-11, 19-20).

The externals do not matter, it is what is inside a person that matters. Are they clean inside?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27).

As for prosperity preachers, my hope does not lie in my faith to get consumable goods here in my best life now. I follow the command of Jesus,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

My treasure is the Holy Spirit inside me, pointing to the treasure of Christ, God’s son. Whatever the flavor of false religion, it will always point you to something that does not matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus…and whether you are reconciled to Him or are His enemy. Reconciliation is the eternal treasure, and that doesn’t happen externally, it is an inward transformation–

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Posted in prosperity

Drillers herald new Israeli gas find

This is another, new, gas find. Israel has had around three or four gas and oil finds over these last four years!
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“Israeli and Norwegian energy companies said they encountered a significant amount of natural gas in an offshore Israeli field. Norwegian energy company AGR said it encountered “significant signs of natural gas” during drilling operations in the Aphrodite-2 exploration well in the offshore Ishai license block. The well encountered a gas layer of 49 feet, the Platts news service reports. Partner energy company Israel Opportunity said it would likely be late February before it can delineate the full extent of the find. The license area is said to contain about 3.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, reports Platts.”

Source UPI Business