Thursdays With Oswald—What Is Mammon?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Is Mammon?

     You cannot serve God and Mammon [Matthew 6:24]. A man of the world says we can; with a little subtlety and wisdom and compromise (it is called diplomacy or tact), we can serve both. The devil’s temptation to our Lord to fall down and worship him, i.e., to compromise, is repeated over and over again in Christian experience. We have to realize that there is a division as high as heaven and as deep as hell between the Christian and the world. ‘Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God’ [James 4:4]. … 

     Never compromise with the spirit of Mammon. When you are right with God, you become contemptible in the eyes of the world. Put into practice any of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and you will be treated with amusement at first; then if you persist, the world will get annoyed and will detest you. … What is Mammon? The system of civilized life which organizes itself without considering God. … 

     When we become mature in godliness God trusts His own honor to us by placing us where the world, the flesh, and the devil may try us, knowing that ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’ [1 John 4:4].

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Mammon wants to get what it wants to get, without considering God and without regard to the long-term consequences. Mammon wants satisfaction right now! 

Mammon is the system of the world. People are constantly driven by what they can get for themselves right now, with little—if any—thought to what God thinks or to what the inevitable outcome is going to be. 

A Christian is different. 

A Christian is focused on something which cannot be seen right now. But just because the rewards cannot be seen doesn’t make them any less real. In fact, Jesus teaches that the rewards He gives are Reality itself. 

When a Christian insists on doing things God’s way, the devil will sneer and people will laugh. But God’s Spirit in you is greater than all of that, and He will help you to stand firm in Him, not compromising with the lure of Mammon. 

8 Quotes From “Workmen Of God”

Although written over 100 years ago, Workmen Of God is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today. I have shared longer passages from this book in my weekly series called “Thursdays With Oswald,” but here are a few other gems from this book. You can read my full book review of Workmen Of God by clicking here.

“We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the Word of God amongst them, and if the Holy Spirit is to apply the Word of God through us as workmen meeting not to be ashamed.”

“Men’s minds will always assent that Jesus Christ is right—why? Because Jesus Christ is Incarnate Reason. There is something in Jesus Christ that appeals to every man, no matter what condition he is in. If once Jesus Christ is brought into contact with the man, let that man seem to us dead and indifferent, destitute of anything like goodness—let him come in contact with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and you will instantly see that he can grasp something about Him in a way we cannot understand unless we know the Holy Spirit.”

“Unless your religion will go to the lowest and the worst and the most desperate case you know of, your religion is of no use.”

“Intercessory prayer for a backslider is a most instructive but most trying work for God, it will teach the worker that prayer is not only making petitions, but that prayer is breathing and atmosphere.”

“When the message you have to deliver, brother preacher, strikes straight home, don’t water it down just a little. Go straight for God if you come from Him. Neither for fear nor favor alter the message.”

“Love for men as men will never stand the strain. In order to catch men for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must love Jesus Christ absolutely, beyond all others. You must have a consuming passion of love, then He will flow through you in a passion of love and yearning and draw all men to Himself.”

“We need to live steadfastly in the presence of God so that when we are praised we don’t arouse the spirit of envy, the spirit that makes a man want to do something, not because he loves God, but because he wants to emulate us. … God grant we may see that the great need of every worker is a first-hand acquaintance with Jesus Christ which puts to death the spirit of ambition.”

“You cannot have holiness without a chaste physical life. Oh, the sapping power of God because of unchaste men and women who preached His Gospel.”

A Solution to the Porn Epidemic

This was originally posted by Murray Vassar. It is an outstanding post that I wanted to share with you…

computerFor ten years I have been studying at Christian universities and seminaries, and I have found that pornography is rampant among my peers. The problem is so bad that Christian leaders have begun advising young women not to break up with their boyfriends over porn addiction. The logic is tragically compelling: if Christian women insist on only dating porn-free men, the odds are they will never get married.  

We are repeatedly told that the solution to porn addiction is accountability groups. Accountability groups may be helpful for some, but they have clearly been unable to halt the epidemic. Often, such groups merely end up normalizing porn use. 

Before we can find a true solution, we must identify the reason for the epidemic. Availability is not the primary problem. The primary problem is that deep down inside, perhaps even subconsciously, we do not think porn is really that bad. (I know many will object, but hear me out.)

You can break your addiction to pornography in one day. It only takes two steps: (1) go to your cell phone company and trade in your smart-phone for a regular phone, and (2) call your internet provider and cancel your service (or have your wife set a password only she knows). We do not do this for the simple reason that we do not hate pornography enough. If we really thought that viewing pornography was like drinking poison, we would do whatever it took to cut off access. 

At this point someone may object that his work or studies require home internet. Perhaps this is true for a small segment of the population. The vast majority, however, have access to computer labs at public or university libraries. Living without home internet would be inconvenient, but not impossible. Furthermore, for those few who absolutely require home internet, my point remains. If you truly thought that viewing pornography was like drinking poison, you would take whatever steps necessary to cut off access – even if those steps involved moving or changing jobs. 

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you.” We are so quick to identify this saying as hyperbole that we ignore the point of the hyperbole. Jesus does not want you to literally cut out your eye, but that doesn’t mean you get to keep your smart-phone. 

So the problem is that we don’t hate porn enough. But why don’t we hate porn? What has happened? I think the answer is clear. I know few Christian men who would be comfortable saying it’s not a sin to go to a strip club. However, I know few Christian men who would be comfortable saying it is a sin to watch Deadpool, even though the film features a scene in a strip club. Through a series of infinite compromises over a span of decades, we have convinced ourselves that there is a fundamental difference between viewing a naked woman in person and viewing a video recording of that same naked woman. On-screen depictions of nudity and sexuality have become so trivial that we simply cannot muster up genuine hatred when we take that infinitesimally small step from Game of Thrones to ‘real pornography.’  

So what is the solution? We need to ask God to fill us with his hatred for an industry which degrades and destroys the most vulnerable members of our society. Then, in the power of the Spirit, we need to pluck out our modem and cast it from us.

10 Quotes From “Our Portrait In Genesis”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers has given us another valuable resource in Our Portrait In Genesis, as he walks through the first book of the Bible with us. You can read my full book review here. As usual, there are just way too many good quotes to share all at once, so here is the first batch of quotes from this book.

“It is not my faith laying hold of the Word, but the life in the Word laying hold on me.”

“We transgress a law of God and expect an experience akin to death, but exactly the opposite happens, we feel enlarged, more broad-minded, more tolerant of evil, but we are more powerless; knowledge which comes from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of instigating to action, paralyzes.”

“No man can murder his brother who has not first murdered God in himself.” 

“It is ingrained in our thinking that competition and rivalry are essential to the carrying on of civilized life; that is why Jesus Christ’s statements seem wild and ridiculous. They are the statements either of a man or of God Incarnate. To carry out the Sermon on the Mount is frankly impossible to anyone but a fool, and who is the fool? The man who has been born again and who dares to carry out in his individual life the teaching of Jesus. And what will happen? The inevitable result, not the success he would otherwise have. A hard saying, but true.”

“Grace is the overflowing immeasurable favor of God; God cannot withhold, the only thing that keeps back His grace and favor is our sin and perversity.” 

“Faith un-tried has no character value for the individual. … Spiritual character is only made by standing loyal to God’s character no matter what distress the trial of faith brings.”

“We must be careful never to compromise over any promise of God when by reason of human limitation there has been only a partial fulfillment. Such a compromise is easily detected whenever you feel, ‘Oh well, I suppose that is all God meant.’ Every word God has spoken will be absolutely fulfilled; to climb down from that confidence is to be disloyal to God.”

“There is always the danger of becoming a fanatical adherent to what God has said instead of adhering to God who said it.”

“The only way to wait for the Second Coming is to watch that you do what you should do so that when He comes is a matter of indifference.” 

“It is a question of faith in God, the rarest thing, we have faith only in our feelings. I don’t believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say, ‘Now I believe.’ There is no faith there.”

Links & Quotes

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“Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them—search them; look up the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there—that is not fair.” —Charles Spurgeon

“How does the Lord reward His diligent ones? It has been my experience that when I walk arm in arm with Jesus, so in love with Him, rewards break out on all sides. Everything I do or have is blessed: my wife, children, friends, ministry. There comes a life of Christ within that flows like a mighty river. Yes, we’ll have trials and tribulations. But through it all He rewards us with manifestations of His presence. … Those who neglect the Lord soon spin out of control as the devil moves in and takes over. Such a person has a devastated self-image. His or her feelings and thoughts cannot be curbed, and their tongue wags and moves under the power of bitterness and anger.” —David Wilkerson

Small problems can become huge problems if they are not addressed early on. Max Lucado has a great reminder in his post Go After The Small Drips.

Here is a great way to check out lots of books. Frank Viola has a link to a special offer from Leaders Book Summaries.

“If the Holy Spirit is obeyed the stubbornness is blown out, the dynamite of the Holy Ghost blows it out.” ―Oswald Chambers

[VIDEO] John Maxwell reminds us that only mature people can compromise to make relationships successful. Check this out―

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading & watching from today…

“[God] will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only in so far as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls.” —C.S. Lewis

“To live well is the way to die well. Death is not our first foe but the last; let us then fight our adversaries in order, and overcome them each in its turn, trusting that He Who has been with us even until now will be with us until the end.” —Charles Spurgeon

“It  is sin in the heart that makes one say, ‘This is far too hard for me!’ The yielded heart, on the other hand, becomes free, and obedience is no longer a burden. For the surrendered heart, it is all joy.” —David Wilkerson

Membership in your local church is one of the most important things about you.” Read more from Jonathan Parnell on the local church.

Warning: Essure birth control is deadly for women!

Amazing new insights into how God designed plants to manage their hours of sunlight in the photosynthesis process.

Rick Warren on homosexual “marriage”: The church must not cave-in.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell on the importance of making good decisions…

“Some people don’t lead their lives, they accept their lives.” —John Kotter

15 Quotes From “Finding The Love Of Your Life”

Finding The Love Of Your LifeFinding The Love Of Your Life by Dr. Neil Clark Warren is a wonderful resource for anyone contemplating marriage, or for parents to help prepare their children for marriage. You can rad my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes I found especially interesting in this book.

“The person you can become is far more important than the person you are today. … When you start with who you are today and commit yourself to moving steadily toward goals, the progress you experience will not only make you feel genuinely proud, but it will also make you significantly more attractive to members of the opposite sex. … This kind of emotional growth is best achieved when you start with a deep understanding that you are totally lovable just the way you are. If your pursuit of excellence grows out of an appreciation for the way you have been created, you’ll grow by leaps and bounds.”

“The crucial thing is not to seek after someone whose personality is like your father’s or mother’s, but to search for that person whose personality would make you genuinely happy through the years.”

“Research has consistently shown that religious commitment and marital success are highly related.” 

“Research findings are highly consistent: the most stable marriages are those involving two people with many similarities. … For couples, similarities are like money in the bank, and differences are like debts they owe. Suppose you received two bank statements in the mail today, one showing the amount of money in your savings account, the other showing the amount you owe on your credit card. If you have a large savings account and little debt, you’re in a position of strength and you can weather economic storms. If a financial crisis arises, you have the means to handle it. You can make decisions and purchases without scrambling to figure out how you’ll manage. But the reverse is also true. With big debts and little savings, you’re on shaky financial ground. You have to work a lot harder to cover the bills, and you worry about job security and making ends meet. … If you want to make a marriage work with someone who is very different from you, you had better have a large number of similarities as permanent equity in your account. If you don’t, your relationship could be bankrupt at a frighteningly early stage. Why is this the case? Because every difference you have requires negotiation and adaptation. One of you has to give a lot, or both of you have to give some, and in either case there is the need for plenty of change.”

“If the qualities that attracted you to someone are different from your own, be cautious.” 

“A great marriage requires two healthy people, and the time to get healthy is before you get married. … What I am particularly concerned about here is the emotional and mental health of the two people considering a lifelong partnership.”

“When we marry, it will be ideal if in relation to our parents (1) we are essentially free from them—emotionally independent individuals—so we do not have to make decisions and live our lives to please them; (2) we are clear about what is particularly true of our relationship with our mother and father, and what is true in relation to our spouse. When we confuse these relationships, we leave our spouse feeling violated and helpless; and (3) we have established a relationship with our parents in which they will not intrude in our marriage, will not dictate to us in any authoritative ways, and yet we can still maintain a closeness and connectedness to them.”

“The desire to touch, hold hands and hug is critical for long-term satisfaction. I agree. Building a great marriage is virtually impossible without the attraction and excitement that comes with passionate love. … I am deeply convinced that any two people who choose to marry need to maintain clear minds until the moment they say ‘I do.’ Because of this, I believe in sexual abstinence prior to marriage. Sexual intercourse before marriage is a clear act of commitment! Once you have become sexually involved with a potential mate, your ability to think clearly and objectively becomes impossible. … In one impulsive moment, two people cut short the process of ‘choosing’ one another, and they rob themselves of their own wisdom. Once they are sexually involved, they forfeit their combined ability to make a wise, unhindered decision.”

“(1) Passionate love between two people is a crucial ingredient if they are to have a long and satisfying relationship. (2) Passionate love always involves strong physical attraction. (3) Physical involvement must be managed with extreme care. (4) Every progression of physical activity establishes a new plateau—and it is extremely difficult to retreat once it has been reached. (5) When sexual expression is not kept in check, the emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects of the relationship become slaves to the physical desires.”

“Too many failed marriages involve fantasy triumphing over fact.”

“When you are intimate with the person you love, you create unlimited possibilities for the growth of your relationship. Intimacy has the potential for lifting the two of you out of the lonely world of separateness and into the stratosphere of emotional oneness. Conversely, the number one enemy of any marriage is the lack of intimacy. If two people do not know each other deeply, they can never become what the Bible calls ‘one flesh.’” 

“You have to know yourself if you’re going to be intimate with someone else.”

“When two people discover that they have a spiritual hunger or spiritual awareness in common, they are strongly drawn to one another. In fact, I have found that a lack of mutually held spiritual beliefs often signals an intimacy deficit that leaves couples dangerously unconnected. In fact, one research study showed that spirituality ranked among the six most common characteristics of strong families. The strongest families in this study reported experiencing ‘a sense of power and a purpose’ greater than themselves—a spiritual orientation.”

“The fatal flaw of our society is that the principles of business have increasingly infiltrated our intimate relationships. That’s why society has found it necessary to trivialize wedding vows, to pretend they are no longer binding or relevant. Marriage makes very little sense when viewed from a business perspective. Let me explain: Two fundamental principles in business are: (1) What you pay for something is based on what you get in return; (2) When a business arrangement is no longer a ‘good deal,’ you either alter the arrangement or terminate it. But marriage is radically different! It depends on unconditional commitment. When you get married, you pledge to love, honor and cherish another person for a lifetime. If your mate changes over time, you are not released from your pledge. … Relationships that are conditional allow almost no room for trust and intimacy.”

“There is only one time to think about commitment-—before you make it!

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