by Doug Perry, www.TheChurchOfLiberty.com
(Based on Matt. 6; I Peter 1; Rev. 3:17-21; Rev. 18; I Corin. 3; Matt. 23:17; Eph. 2:6-8; Col. 1:27; Matt. 24:9-14; Matt. 25)
I Peter 1:18-19
What a blessing it is to be an American! If your hope is for a comfortable life, health, opportunities to accumulate assets - what a blessing. If your hope is for spiritual purity and being like Christ - what a curse it is to live here! The "American Dream" trumpeted around the world that urges the poor, downtrodden, huddled masses to come to us is the vision that they could work hard, make a million dollars, get a big car, a big house and a pretty blonde wife in a bikini. If not them, then maybe their kids.
Do you see that God has blessed this nation from the very beginning with relative peace, with an entrepreneurial spirit, with a great work ethic, with capital and energy enough to accomplish nearly any task? The problem is our continuous misunderstanding of the nature of the economy of the universe. Without a great revival movement every fifty years in this country (since 1750), there might be no signs of Christian love left. We would have long since been absorbed by the consumer mentality. Even now we are in grave danger as the church unrepentantly becomes more and more like the world.
We've been blessed by God with the right instincts - massive accumulation of treasure through hard work and entrepreneurial thinking. But we've ignored the specific instructions in the Bible about what money is FOR. We've arrogantly chosen the easy parts of the Bible and dismissed those that draw us into conflict with worldy culture. (We are not being persecuted because we are not trying to be like Christ. As soon as a movement of Christians decides to throw off this culture and live as Christ commanded, persecution will start in America. Enough of them might even be seen as a threat to our economic safety and national security.)
The Bible says we're to store up treasure in Heaven where it won't rust and thieves can't steal. If we are to covet anything, it is this. The eternal treasure is the thing. Don't you get it? That's what dollars are for! If God has blessed you with more than your basic needs, every single extra dollar should be used to purchase Heavenly treasure. Any other use of them is selfishness, apostasy and ultimately, idolatry. Not my words - I'm not happy about it either. I stand condemned the same as anyone else. But you can't leave the verses cited above out of the Scriptures and still honestly say your desire is to be like Christ.
Imagine someone offered you Microsoft stock or Hewlett-Packard stock when those guys were still working in their garages. Better yet, imagine if you absolutely, positively knew what that stock would be worth someday. You knew it was a winner. Would you buy into them? Would you sacrifice some current luxury to help them grow - in exchange for the long-term payoff?
When God finally got through to me and helped me see this, all of my American business instincts kicked into overdrive. If every dollar is entrusted to me SO THAT I can use it to buy treasure in Heaven, then I want maximum return on investment for every single dollar. See? Makes perfect sense. So I went on a search to first see how my money was currently being used and then find who might be a better investment. As it turns out, the "stocks" I'd been buying through denominational structures and "Big Church" programs have a TERRIBLE yield in Heaven. I can't say they're all losers, but they were definitely under-performing their potential.
I want to find those mighty warriors, those servants of the Cross, those who are truly being obedient and living like Christ; those who when they pray you just know God hears them; those who have eternal Fruit flying off of them like crazy; those who are caring for the poor and sick and lost; those who are storing up treasure in heaven faster than anybody else - then I want in on it. I want to buy a share in their pile. (Matt. 10:41-42) I want to support them, urge them on and get out of their way. I want a stake in that eternal reward. And if I have a hot tip that's going to make me a fortune, I want to tell my friends and my family and my employees and even strangers on the bus!
Our search for who is the hottest stock led us first to Gospel For Asia (http://www.GFA.org), although we are now finding others and will seek to highlight them at every opportunity. For example, the native missionaries that GFA supports are amazing warriors of the faith, going out to hostile regions on a one way ticket with grim determination to win souls for Christ or die trying. They sleep on stone floors, live on one or two dollars a day, pray for hours, preach fearlessly and raise up mighty churches of fearless disciples - and when God thinks it will help, mighty miracles make their way easier. All for a total ministry cost of $1000 to $1500 per year in most cases.
Western missionaries sent through our denominational structures often cost $100,000 per year. Average investment in one missionary family can exceed $500,000 with an average time on the field of just three years. Many prepare and never go at all. Private schools or tutors for their kids, healthcare, retirement funds, furloughs, maids, chauffers, security guards, language training, internet access and others - may all be required costs for these. Not to mention the lost potential in ministry momentum of having to come back to fund-raise periodically. (I don't question the motives of the missionaries. I speak from experience here, having grown up in that life.) Even with all of this, foreign missions is less than 5% of total church spending. The rest we spend on our local programs, buildings and staffs.
Our website is just an expression of that yearning for stewardship and has become a place to educate about the HORRIBLE job we're doing in the American church of spending our dollars wisely to get maximum yield in Heaven. I urge you, test yourself, your company, your church, your denomination, your charities. What is their true yield in Heavenly treasure? Seek maximum profit in the eternal currency.
I want my family, my employees, you and your family and a thousand thousand other Brothers and Sisters to be in a giant receiving line where we get to kiss and hug the souls brought into heaven by the labor of those on the field that we supported from the blessing of our wealth. If Heaven is forever, I want that line to stretch farther than I can see. I want that line to last for YEARS.
The "Prosperity Gospel" ministries are right, they're living in their reward. This is it. Enjoy it while you can. What are those HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollar per year their ministries are bringing in going to buy them in Heaven? What kind of accountability are we getting? How much is going to ministry and not their own pockets? What treasure in Heaven is being accumulated? Really needed that private jet and multi-million dollar house did they? Let's see what Jesus has to say about it when we all come to account. I pray urgently for them to have the heart of Zacchaeus before it's too late. Repent and make restitution.
As for me and my house, we'll invest in those who are living like Christ. GFA sends 100% of missions donations to evangelism on the field to the most unreached. Even the receptionist and the shipping guy have to raise their own salaries from personal supporters or else volunteer. MILLIONS of souls a year are being reached. Ten new churches planted every day. .
Which one do YOU want a piece of?
Research the ministries. Be smart. Invest wisely. Demand accountability and efficiency. Visit www.ECFA.org and www.MinistryWatch.org. If they can't be trusted with the little things, they can't be trusted with the big things. Would Jesus of Nazareth drive a Bentley or a Rolls Royce? There are some serious wolves out there amongst the sheep.
Whether entrusted with a little or a lot, we'll all be called to account for our stewardship of God's blessings.
Copyright Doug Perry 2004. Use freely - but without charge and without changes. Link to: www.TheChurchOfLiberty.com