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This morning I was reminded of a pastor I met in northern Nigeria some years ago that would go out without any money and plant churches. He had few resources but would raise the church up until it was healthy and firm, and then he would go off to another area to plant the next church. When I met him, he had already planted several churches this way, taking nothing for himself for money or support. He just went on by faith.

I am also reminded of another pastor that I ministered with who was given $50,000 as an offering from a UK-based church. Instead of buying himself a nice home or car, he used that money to build the foundations for over 150 churches across northern Uganda. He remained dirt poor and didn’t have the money to finish many of those buildings, but they were functioning churches, and that was what mattered for the hundreds of people that worshipped God in them.

I know several men and women of God like that.

Is this what I see here in the modern church world in America where the preachers expound more about blessings and prosperity than the sufferings of the Cross and the fear of God? They proudly display their wealth across the television networks as a sign of their blessings from God. I am tired of hearing that it’s not the money, but the love of money that is root of all evil, all the while using that same scripture as an excuse to pursue more wealth. As the scripture says, they think “gain is godliness” (1 Tim. 6:5). But the admonition is to turn away from them because they are destitute of the truth.

And as the shepherd goes, so goes the flock. Our church world has, in many areas, taken on a worldly sheen that even the unsaved can recognize. They can see it, and we can’t. Small wonder that so many refuse to darken the doors of any church. They don’t see anything in the modern church world that they want.

Do you see what I am seeing? Can you feel that something in the church world is just not right, but you’re not quite sure what it is? Does it seem difficult to pick out any one thing that you can point to as wrong, but still there is that feeling that something is off? A friend of mine calls it cognitive dissonance.

How did we get so far off course? This was not the way the church was a couple of generations ago. Certainly we’ve seen men of God that were blessed and enjoyed a certain amount of wealth, but not to the degree of the lavish lifestyles we see today. The difference that is so startling is not about the money, but the attitude.

Are we focused on the comforts of the crown, or the sufferings of the Cross? Are the rewards we pursue measured in coin or in souls? Are we trying to get our rewards now, or lay them up for Eternity?

Paul said that he would not glory except in the cross, “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal 6:14) The apostle John agreed and warned us to not love the world, neither the things in the world, for if we did, the love of the father would not be in us. (1John 2:15). Even James told us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4)

So how did so many of us lose our bearings? Perhaps it is a matter of what we are focused on.

I see so many Christians in the churches dive off into their own ministries, which seems encouraging until I notice that they are running around ministering to each other and have forgotten the commission that was given to them to go unto the lost. They seem to be run more like a corporate business than an outreach by faith. Few are willing to give up the security of a paycheck to run off into the bush to plant a church with nothing in their pocket. Neither do many feel the call to sacrifice everything they have in life just so they can go.

Is this generation focused only on their own lives, what they want, and how they want it, rather than the crucified sacrifice that fueled our forefathers? Is it all about us and how we want it instead of blindly throwing yourself at God and let him take you through the valleys of death to strip the “you” out of you? Or like Gideon who refused to compromise with the worldly church that the Israelites had become, but instead threshed his wheat in secret by the winepress of God, away from the religious ways of a carnal church.

Paul echoes Isaiah as he cried out for us to come out from among them and be separate people unto the Lord. Jesus said just as he was preparing to go to Calvary that “ye are not of the world”. If you were, as John says later, the world would hear you (1 John 4:5,6). Peter says we are supposed to escape the pollutions of this world by cutting off our desire to be like them. (2 Peter 2:20)

Is this what I see in the modern church world today? Is this the example that is set by our affluent clergy and wealthy congregations? Or, is this the same spirit that led the children of Israel to worship golden calves at the foot of Mount Sinai?

Choose a path. I don’t believe you can have both. The deception of the world is too strong to dabble in. Like skating on thin ice to see how far you can go, you may not find out until it is too late.

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria … That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock … and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” (Amos 6:1-6)

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