A Missive on the
Prosperity-Driven Life

[Dateline: 8 August 2008]
.

It has been an unusually good growing season here in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. We have had rainfall almost every day, with lots of sunshine and warmth. My garden is growing with tropical lushness.


That hasn’t always been the case. Take, for example, the summer of 1999. I remember it all too well. It was a drought year. The creek behind my house dried up. Then our well went dry and the pump motor burned out. The soil was parched like I had not seen before. It was terribly hot every day. My family faced considerable hardship as a result.


Marlene hauled our laundry to the laundromat. We took showers at her mother’s house in town. We even took dishes to her mom’s place to wash. Most memorable was the sawdust toilet I put together and we used for two months. It served the purpose remarkably well and we realized that life without a flush toilet is not so bad—just different.


Compounding the difficulties of having no water was the significant financial drought we also faced.


I had invested a lot of time and savings into launching a small business venture a year or so earlier and it had been a failure. The money was gone. Gone too was my drive to work. I had neglected my remodeling business to focus on the new venture and, having poured myself into it, all for naught, I was burnt out. I was depressed too. I found it difficult to motivate myself to do anything.


All the while, the bills continued to come due: insurances, phone, electric, food, gas, and so on. Our savings account dwindled to nothing. I borrowed and used all the money I could get on my life insurance policy. We withdrew everything that was in our modest IRA retirement account. The checking account was practically empty. And I, as the sole provider for my family of five, was faced with the full burden of our situation.


I have mentioned that time in my life in past essays here. It was not a good time for me. But, in retrospect, I dare say a taste of failure and poverty is a healthy thing for someone who thinks they are above and beyond such a state in life. It brings perspective. You can better relate to others who struggle with poverty, and there are many of them all around us.


And times like that can bring a person to their knees. Why is this happening to me Lord? What did I do to deserve this? I don’t know what to do. Please help me!


Oh yes, experiences like that burn themselves into a person’s memory. And experiences like that can be a powerful incentive to a change of attitude, to humility, to repentance, to spiritual renewal.


===============


When I was 14 years old, I stayed a couple summer-vacation weeks with my cousins in Springfield, Mass. I clearly recall an event that happened there one very hot day. We had come back to Springfield after a wonderful week at Cape Cod. The floor carpet in the station wagon was full of beach sand. My cousin Peter and I were given the job of vacuuming the carpet.


Like I said, it was a hot and humid day and we were unhappy about the work we had to do. We wanted to be back at Cape Cod, at the beach, in the water, having fun. To make matters worse, the house directly across the street had an in-ground swimming pool in the back yard. We could hear kids laughing, splashing in the water, and having a great time in the pool.


Peter and I griped about our sorry lot in life and wished we had a swimming pool. We decided right then and there that when we grew up we would each have in-ground swimming pools. We would have in-ground swimming pools because we would be rich. And then we made a pact.


We agreed that whichever one of us made a million dollars first would buy the other an in-ground swimming pool.


I’m still waiting. So is Peter.


===================


I have read recollections of some old timers who grew up on a farm before there was television and radio and all the modern conveniences we take for granted these days (i.e., flush toilets). Looking back on their early childhood, those people will often remark that they were poor, but they didn’t know it at the time.


They didn’t know it because they had plenty of food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over their head, and they were part of a loving family. What more could a child need?


Only as they grew up and were exposed to the urban culture beyond the shelter of their rural homes, exposed to automobiles, exposed to the influencing media of television, radio, movies, magazines, and so much clever advertising, did they come to realize how “poor” their childhoods had been.


I never had that problem. I knew full well that I was “poor” from a very young age. My needs as a child were met but, living in suburbia in the 1960s and 1970s, I was keenly aware that my family was not as well off as Beaver Cleaver’s family or The Brady Bunch. Just looking around, I could see that most everyone else was better off than us. And, undoubtedly, most everyone else was well aware that they were not as well off as everyone else they compared themselves to.


We were intentionally indocrtrinated by the media and the culture we lived in from a young age. We were cursed with that industrial-world plague of never being content, of never having enough, no matter how much we had. And so, we resolved to ourselves from a young age that we would grow up to be rich. It’s the “American Way,” don’t ya know.


=================


The desire to be rich, to have an abundance of possessions and money, is the keystone of our modern, neo-Babylonian culture. Everything seems to revolve around the acquisition of money and all the superfluous things that money can buy. It is, after all, money and things that bring us respect, validation, influence, and comfort.


Indeed, if someone does not at least aspire to be rich in the many material things our culture offers, they are looked upon as loosers and misfits. Pity the poor fools who don’t have the initiative to “make something of themselves” in this life.


Yes, we live in the midst of a culture that places great importance on the pursuit and acquisition of prosperity and all the pleasures that prosperity can buy. Many men and women forgo having families so they can pursue prosperity in its many alluring forms. Others do have families but neglect them as they strive to achieve a greater and greater measure of wealth.


People invest to get rich. People commit crimes to get rich. People go to casinos to get rich. People buy lottery tickets to get rich. People borrow money and buy what they cannot afford so they will at least have some semblance of being rich. It’s all about getting rich. And, from the standpoint of what the Bible has to say, it’s all wrong.


But how could it be wrong?


After all, there are preachers who preach that God wants His people to be rich and wealthy, that blessings and riches go hand in hand, that if we are right with God, if we tithe, if we give generously, we will receive more money in return. There are men who will testify to this truth in their lives. They are rich because God has blessed them. How could it be wrong to work to be rich if so many other Christians are rich?


What’s wrong with working to achieve such success? What’s wrong with encouragng and guiding our children into vocations that will help them to be rich? What could possibly be wrong with Christian men and women striving daily to build wealth within the world system?


Surely it is okay for Christians to aspire to acquire wealth on par with the rest of the culture around us!


===============


Last month I read the gospel of Luke, which has much to say about this subject of being rich.


But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.




Jesus Christ condemned the pursuit and acquisition of riches—in no uncertain terms. Scripture beyond the book of Luke supports this condemnation. Thus, I am left to conclude that the desire to be successful in the world’s terms, the desire to attain the trappings of success (to be rich) is not of God.


For me, the most compelling evidence of this fundamental truth is in Luke 8, which tells the parable of the sower.


A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.




Then Jesus Himself provides the interpretation of His parable:


Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.




Did you see it? Right there is a remarkable condemnation of the Prosperity-Driven life as it has been adopted by a great portion of the Christian church in our day and age. Cares and riches and pleasures are likened to thorns that choke out the fullness of life that God desires for His people. Such thorns need to be rooted out.


Is your life choked with the cares and concerns that come when riches and pleasure are pursued? Are you living beyond your means? Are you discontent because you do not have as much as those who you choose to compare yourselves to?


Or maybe you are a Christian so successful and comfortably wealthy that you’re convinced none of those verses can really mean what they say? Perhaps you are deluded into thinking you are not rich when, by most people’s standards, you are. The fact is, by historical standards, and even current worldwide circumstances, all of us in the industrialized West are materialistically very rich.


I don’t know where you are in your thinking about success and wealth and pursuing the so-called American Dream. It doesn’t matter to me. But if you are a Christian, and you take your Christianity seriously, it should matter to you.


Christians are called to separate from the ungodly aspirations of the world culture around us; to separate from Vanity Fair in it’s many manifestations. But when it comes to pursuing prosperity, the concept of separation is so contrary, and Christians are so syncretized into the financial Zeitgeist of our age,that we are hard pressed to implement something like this. We have been so indoctrinated by Babylonian culture that we have trouble getting our minds around the meaning of separation in this regard. Besides that, we love the pleasures and playthings that our money can buy.


So how does a Christian seeking truth and desiring to please the Lord effectively separate in this area?


I can not answer that question for you. I am trying to answer the question for myself. I am looking for the balance between properly providing and pursuing prosperity. It is a delicate balance.


I can tell you this much: I am closer to the answer than I was at 14 years old. And I am closer to the answer than I was during the drought of 1999.


I’m persuaded that the balance we need is found first within our attitude and focus; which is to say, within our heart’s desires. Second, I’m inclined to believe that our heart’s desires are clearly revealed in our actions—in how we make the money we need, in how greatly we strive for the acquisition of money and the things money can buy, in how we spend the money God has entrusted to us, in how freely we give to others in need, in how well we live within our means, in how content we are with little.


====================


I know a man who is an electrician. He flat out doesn’t like Christians. Why? It turns out that he once had a business partner who was a Christian. The partnership went sour. The Christian partner made sure he came out on top. at the expense of his non-Christian associate.


The modern business world celebrates getting the better part of a business deal. But Christianity does not condone oneupsmanship.


===================


My stepfather sold health and life insurance for 30 years. He once told me that he did not like to sell insurance to Christians. I was shocked. “Why not?” I asked. “Because they lie,” he replied.


Again, it came down to money. He had sold insurance to outwardly professing Christians who lied about their health history on the insurance forms. When it came to light, the insurance company took money away from my father.


Those people may have thought it was okay to lie to the big, impersonal insurance company if they could get away with it. But their actions affected my father’s finances, which were never that good.


Christians speak of witnessing to unbelievers, about how important it is to verbally tell them about eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Yes, that is important. But actions speak louder than words.


===================


Years ago, Marlene and I got a call from a man at Focus on The Family, a Christian ministry that I’m sure you’ve heard of. He and another man from the ministry were going to be in our area and wanted to take Marlene and I out for breakfast. We were supporters of that ministry at that time, but relatively small supporters. How did they come to call us? What did they want? I was suspicious.


They said they typically visit with ministry supporters when they travel and happened to call us at random. We met them for breakfast and had a very nice visit. The only mention of money was when I brought it up.


I had heard that James Dobson, founder of the ministry, did not take any salary at all from it. I asked if that was true. Both men assurred me that it was true. They told me his primary source of income was from the books he has written. Then they explained that, because the ministry promoted his books, Dr. Dobson gave a sizeable portion of his book proceeds to the ministry.


Now there is a Christian man who is careful and conscientious about his witness. Actions speak louder than words.


====================


I could ramble on. But I’ve made my point—a point that, for some reason, I’ve felt strongly compelled to make here.


Before I close, I’d like to give you two guiding verses of scripture. The first is from Psalms:


Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.




Then there is King Solomon who, you may recall, was very rich and very wise (but fallibly human). He declared, looking back on his life, that all the work he had done was vanity and vexation of spirit. Then, in the book of Ecclesiasties, he says this:


Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

27 comments:

nickdavidwright said...

Wonderful post.

Robert said...

Glad to see you're back to posting. This is fantastic stuff.

nickdavidwright said...

Also I've always liked 1 Timothy 6:9-
"But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction."

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Due to my husband's illness, we now live on Social Security Disability (and I can't work full time due to Juvenile Diabetes).

I can't tell you how many times people from our church have wondered if there is sin in our life because financial troubles are a sign of God's disfavor!

However, God has been so faithful to us and we've seen his provision come from people we don't even know. He doesn't promise us riches or comfort but he promises us provision. :)

This is a wonderful post!

Kaleesha said...

How I pray people will take such words to heart! The scripture "two things I request of you, deprive me not before I die..." is one of my favorites. (It's Proverbs 30:7-9, though, not Psalms.) I believe my family falls in that in-between place and I was so thankful to come across that scripture that explained the way I felt about our prosperity (and lack of). This was also a timely post as I was talking with my husband this morning about the damage being done by the popular prosperity preachers. Thanks again for boldly proclaiming the truth.

misseryman said...

I cannot find the superlatives to
describe my uplifting after reading this last entry Herrick!!!!! Please consider blogging forever!!!!!!

I've only recently found your writings & I have read a lot of the archives. Wonderful Wonderful teachings indeed!!!!!!

God has blessed us all...just a shame most don't realize it.

Peace & Love to all!!!!!!!

john

Debbie B. said...

What a wonderful, thought provoking, post. Although I rarely ever comment on blogs I read, I am always amazed by your posts. You have a depth of perception and a way of expressing yourself that truly is a joy to read. I value your insights and the scripture you use to bring home your points. I've learned so much reading your blog. I sincerely thank you. I hope you never stop. God has blessed you with such wisdom and we all benefit from it!

Northern Farmer said...

Amen, Amen! Herrick, with your permission I'd like to print this one off for future reference. This same subject has been on my heart very much this past year.

Michael Bunker said...

Herrick,

Great post, One of the problems in communicating this, is that most people (even those reading and commenting on your blogs) are spectacularly rich when considered with any historical perspective. Most modern folks who live on-grid lives in the suburbs or even in rural areas would be considered the uber-rich if compared to the times of the apostles, or even to the times of Agrarian Europe. We have just redefined what "rich" means, and since some folks are not as "rich" as the grotesquely rich (actually "debt-rich") of today, then they consider themselves poor. My grandparents would be considered "dirt poor" or even impoverished today. My family, having no grid electricity, no running water, no flush toilets, etc. would be considered extremely poor today, even though we consider ourselves to be rich. I think some people will be very shocked to find that they ARE the "rich" spoken of in Christ's teachings and parables.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Michael Bunker

Beck's Bounty said...

Quite simply .... thank you ... and AMEN !!

Grace & Peace.
MomToCherubs
http://www.becksbounty.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Herrick, I agree with most of what you have said in your post, however I believe it is hard to say that if your are rich you are not a Christian. As you know the Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil not money itself, and how do you define rich? As Michael said we are all rich compared to others, does trying to be less rich than the next guy make us a better Christian? Does living off grid make us a better Christian? I don't think so, it is what is in our hearts that make us what we are. I agree completely that striving to be rich above all else is not the Christian way but I know several very strong Christians that are rich. I have never strived to be rich in my life and I left a very high paying job to start a company of my own so I could dedicate more time to the Lord and my family. I have been so blessed since this decision, I did not strive to be wealthy but everything fell into place and I know it was not of my doing. I'm sure if everyone in America decided tomorrow to build a Whizbang Chicken Plucker you would sell them the parts, at that time you would be very wealthy, now would this make you any different than you are today, other than buying the land that you have wanted I think it would not change you greatly. I know you are not saying being rich makes you a non Christian, at least I don't think you are, and I know that money changes people, but I think that if people judge people by how much they have or don't have this is also wrong. As you know the "needle" refered to in scripture was a gate to the city that kept camels from entering the city easily, it made it very difficult but not impossible, if it were, scripture would have said a rich man can't enter the Kingdom.

Sorry for rambling and God bless

mark said...

I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me, because I was never particularly ambitious about earning money. Not lazy, just concerned about other things. I like money, it just has never occupied my total attention most of my life. I accepted that I was never going to be very rich in money, but I have been rich in many other things. I live in a lovely part of the world,have good freinds and neighbors, good food, etc. The church I go to, is christlike. I think I just was happier not worrying about it. I'm richer than most people in the world, and the past. So I shouldn't complain. One thing I have noticed is the wealthier you are, the more busy, busy you seem to get. You don't have a life. Being poor and deprived is stressfull, being rich and distracted from life, worrying about money is too.

jim said...

We have had nearly 50 days of 100 degrees and hotter in central Texas this year so I can relate to your drought story.

I am an artist and paintind a modern version of the parable of the rich fool you quoted. Instead of tearing down barns I show the rich man tearing down a small house to build a bigger one to hold all the stuff he owns. In contrast I show the family next door who has put all their energy into their kids unlike the rich man who is all alone except for the angel of death who has come to require his life.

you can check out the painting Here:

http://janknegt.eccwireless.com/art/richfoollg.jpg

Michael Bunker said...

I think anonymous might have misinterpreted my comments. My point was not to say that, since we are all rich if we take a historical perspective of the term, that somehow we are all ok so long as we think our heart is ok. My point was that since almost everyone reading this (or commenting on it) are rich from a historical standard, then we ought to very seriously consider the warning that Herrick writes about. It is a dangerous thing to think "Heck, I'm not THAT rich, I mean, my neighbor has a boat and I don't", and so to reject the warnings of Christ and the apostles.

The Bible says that the heart is desperately wicked, who can know it? Certainly we cannot know our own heart, and for those who respond to every challenge by saying "God knows my heart", I reply - "Yes he does, he knows it is black as coal and desperately wicked". We are known as Christians by our obedience to Christ, by our attention to right doctrine, and by our sacrificial love for one another. We cannot live disobediently and say, "Well, it's all about the heart", as if to say, "It is ok if I visit whorehouses and commit murder, as long as I think my heart is ok." It is just as dangerous to say, "I don't FEEL rich, and I go to a good church, and I don't ski behind any yachts, so I am ok". The Bible nowhere tells us to trust our heart, or to trust our own feelings about hour hearts condition. Obedience is objective. Doctrine is objective. Love is objective. Oh, and "churches" are like congressmen, no matter how bad the WHOLE gets, most people think that theirs is alright. I mean, do you know anyone that goes to a church but says, "Yeah, I go there, but it is ungodly and wicked!"

Just some thoughts to consider,

Michael Bunker

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you everyone for your comments here.

Tom-you may certainly print it off, and I thank God that you consider it worthy of saving.

Jim-thanks for the link to your art.

Anonymous- I thank you for your comments too. But please do not "put words in my mouth" that I never stated. NEVER did I say that being rich disqualifies anyone from being a Christian. That is what you wrote before later stating that you know I didn't say it. Let's make sure this is clear.

My whole point (which I'll rephrase) is that the dominant, antichrist culture we live in places an emphasis on the self-serving acquisition of wealth and goods. The modern "Good Life" is equated to a life of consumption and ease. A GREAT many who claim to be Christians think and act just as the ungodly culture in this regard.

To some degree I have strived after success as defined by the world around me, and not as God defines it. To some degree I continue to do this. It is something I struggle with, especially as my part-time home business prospers to a modest but increasing degree. You may have your heart attitude completely together where it comes to making money and such. But I struggle with it. I struggle with it because I have been so indoctrinated and because of my prideful, selfish tendencies.

It would, indeed, be wrong of me to judge anyone based on how much they have or don't have. Yet that is what the popular culture does and so do those who buy into the popular cultural attitudes about success and wealth, Christians included.

Frankly, I find myself passing personal judgement (I like to call it discernment) on our Laodicean-like modern church as condemned by Jesus in revelation 3:17...."Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

And I will pass "discernment"on Christians I see who are clearly chasing after mammon, as evidenced by the way they pursue success and spend their money.

======

P.S. I forgot to mention Zaccheaus, of who Luke says, "he was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich."

Zaccheaus meets Jesus Christ and says to him: "Behold Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold."

"And Jesus said unto him: "This day is salvation come to this house..."

When Zaccheaus met Jesus Christ, the focus of his life changed and this was evidenced by his outward actions. After giving away half his wealth and paying fourfold back to those he had cheated, he undoubtedly chose to live a less opulent lifestyle. That is not said but it is implied.

There is no room for "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" in a life committed to Christ.

Patti said...

As a christian the main thing is NOT how much or how little is in your wallet/purse. The main thing IS how much or how little is in your heart.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who finds the irony in this post, and the ensuing discussion in the comments?

Here lurks a group of Christians who are sure enough about prosperity and affiliation with the "world" to make strong note of it on the World Wide Web. By definition, using computers to participate here. Computers, the very cog and wheel of modern society and prosperity. Sure, computers aren't evil in and of themselves (just as mammon is not), but are they not currently (still) the mark of civilized society? Of prosperity, as it were? It sounds disingenuous for professing Christians make these arguments with the very fruit of their prosperity. Can you see? Are we Pharisees or Disciples?

Even so, what have we learned from Mr. Kimball's teaching today? Enough to take action today? Or tomorrow? At all?

I suspect that those who know best of all of what the Messiah taught, are the very ones who will never see our blittings on the subject. Nor would care enough about their opinion to take it to the world like we are here, but rather to live it simply. By experience.

Thanks for letting my air my personal thorn-in-my-side here with you, fellow Christian.

In Christ,
Andrew

Anonymous said...

Herrick when I stated "however I believe it is hard to say that if your are rich you are not a Christian" I did not imply you were saying this, that is why I stated later I did not think you were, I was saying in general terms only. This seems to be a common thought of many however and I appreciate your follow up and your writings. I know most of us will never meet on this earth but I take comfort in knowing will we meet someday.

Dreamer said...

Thank you for this thought provoking post. You have given me a well-need reminder of where my focus should be.

Jim, I found your painting to be thought provoking as well.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Andrew,

Yes, there is a measure of irony in all of this. But I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. The thorn in your side is one you’ve chosen to put there yourself. It needn’t be.

I would strongly disagree that computers are the “mark of civilized society.” They are, however, as you say, a “cog and wheel of modern society and prosperity” (well said). Curiously, though, the internet as we know it was never an original intention of those who developed the computer for business purposes.

In any event, as it is being used here, the computer is a means of communication, and the best form of communication: unregulated and populist (at least for now).

For me, as a Christian-agrarian blogger, my computer serves as a tool to shine a beacon on the foolish errors and dangers of our modern, industrialized, antichrist culture. The computer provides a small remnant of Christian agrarians with a vehicle for discussing how we got into this mess and how to find our way back to a way of life that is more in line with God’s plan, which is to say, more glorifying to the Lord.

We can rail against things that need railing against. We can share the testimony of our lives. We can instruct and inspire and bless others who the Lord leads to our little corners of this world.

Please understand that the process of first, understanding, then rediscovering and returning to the old paths, is incremental. It doesn't happen overnight and we needn't begin by throwing out our computers (though some may choose to do that).

There are PLENTY of other, FAR MORE IMPORTANT things, to contend with than using computers. For example, the whole popular-culture attitude about success and making money, which has been embraced by most of modern Christianity.

I believe the Lord would have us understand, then change our attitudes, then make life changes in accordance with the new understandings and desires that come when Christianity is understood to be agrarian and countercultural.

So, step by step we make our break from Babylon using the computer (some of us) with judiciousness (hopefully).

And as we leave the city, I see no reason why we can’t just toss the computer and the blogs and the mail order home businesses too.

Believe it or not, I like the sounds of that!

Michael Bunker said...

Patti said:

"As a christian the main thing is NOT how much or how little is in your wallet/purse. The main thing IS how much or how little is in your heart."

A simple and eloquent statement that hits far from the mark of truth. I think if someone is qualified to say how the wallet/purse matters it is Christ and not ourselves...

"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

I suppose, following the modernist trend to change the scripture in order to satisfy the "heart", we can just put an asterisk at the end of the verse and add "so long as you think your heart is ok" in the margin.

Our apologies to the Savior.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Michael Bunker

Michael Bunker said...

Oh, I, like Herrick, am not saying that a rich man cannot be saved. I am just attempting to reinforce that it is plainly taught in the words and parables of Christ that riches are a hindrance to true Christianity and that they are listed as one of the things that "choke out" the Word implanted in some professing believers.

Michael Bunker

Rob said...

Herrick,

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed this post, and apparantly it looks as though you have struck chords with people. Some chords are of course musical and beautiful, while others seem to be something of un-harmonious.

I feel an incredible amount of resonance with this posting in particular and have consider writing something very similar for quite sometime, but after reading you I believe myself to be much less adequate to do so now.

I have read this post several times, and still it raises very strong feelings in me, as we too have pursued and chased money. I have been extremely sinful in my past with regard to chasing wealth. Maybe money is not the root of evil as your COURAGEOUS anonymous dissenters have surmised. But here in post-industrial America, I really don't think they would really know the difference. 'The Love of money' argument is frequently used by those who would want to 'lessen' the impact of what their sin really is. Instead of saying, 'I'm a Sinner!' and falling on mercies of Christ they would say, "Well it's not all bad really is it? After all its the LOVE of money isn't it". Many cannot be as honest with themselves, especially being that they live in shrouds of anonymity, when posting chords of disagreement.

I generally do not deal with spiritual matters on my blog as my goal is merely educational, and hopefully enjoyable rather than being deep or interspective, however I wanted you to know that this posting moved me greatly and I only hope that I am blessed with a Holy indifference towards 'Wealth Chasing' and that I truly appreciate the TRUE wealth of a life with conscience, a soul called out, a Wife of respect, and children of obediance.

God bless you sir, and keep you and yours.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the thoughtful and positive response to this blog.

I like your choice of words when you wrote of desiring a ...holy indifference towards Wealth Chasing...

And thank you too for the e-mail you sent me with the artfully arranged pdf file of this essay. I wish I were so skilled.

ctgardengirl said...

I just stumbled on your blog yesterday, and I am really enjoying it, especially since we are trying to buy a farm in the spring, and we are Christians as well.
Thank you for addressing this subject publicly, it was good to read what I've thought privately for some time. We were caught up in this back in the 1990's. A lot has happened since then, including losing 2 businesses (how humiliating, but we learned a lot), many moves, medical emergencies, depression, a lot of wandering... Seems the last 15 years have been a lifetime, but God has taught me a lot through it all, and your message resonates with me. I really admire the fact that you admitted to failing in your business venture. For years, we would not speak of it for feeling such overwhelming shame, and it really isolated us. I'm sure it contributed to a much longer healing time than really necessary. I now have compassion for those who 'failed' and are struggling to put their lives back together - it can be a long tough uphill climb, and worse if you are alone in it. As Christians, we aren't supposed to fail, right? Oh what a painful lesson that was!
It has purged some of the 'pride' and 'elitism' from my heart, and hopefully is being replaced with a much humbler loving spirit. I am a work in progress.
The story of the electrician and insurance man was so true. I am ashamed to admit that the church we belonged to had problems with that area, even though God in His mercy blessed them with a time of revival back in the 90's. How I wish now that they had concentrated on teaching integrity.
That what you do in private really speaks of who you are, not just what you say in public, and shows what your values and integrity really are. It should be a core characteristic in every Christian.
Lastly, I have recently become very concerned with the materialism and pursuit of wealth in our society, and the personal application to our lives. You are so right. Sorry for the long comment, but your post really moved my heart today.

Inalienable Rights said...

Many of your comments remind me why it took me 40 years to find a church that I would attend.

I can't imagine being in the company of anyone that condemned me for failure. I don't care what they called themselves. The biggest thing however that kept me out of any church that I could find are what I can socialist Christians. What an oxymoron. Someone who defines their world view by their right to steal off of their neighbour.

It took a long time but I have found out there are sane and decent Christians in this world. It is just they about as rare as hens teeth. And that is not a judgement that is just a fact.

Resurgam said...

I don't call myself a Christian but your words resound. Beautifully and intelligently put--a very inspiring piece. I found this post through your chicken slaughtering blog, which is inspiring as well! Thank you:-)