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Dead-End Street

Power…Wealth…Control and Influence; three things that many people have searched, and strived, for since the beginning of time. Yet just as many people shy away from these pursuits and are intent to live their lives to the best of their abilities surrounded by rewarding work, meaningful relationships, and comfortable living. So, why do so many seek out power and control versus comfort and relationships?

The allure of power, wealth, and control unfortunately has usually meant the pursuit of some lotharios lifestyles such as involvement in organized crime, drugs, or other crime-centric ventures. History shows that this allure for money and power, when combined with engaging in drugs and crime, usually leads to no-way out for those who chose these pursuits. From what I’ve seen over the years, getting involved in any of these is truly a dead-end street, as it is rare one enters the world of crime and/or drugs, and then comes totally out of those worlds, without eventually losing their health, their families, and often their lives.

Amazingly enough, the solutions to the issues of how to “properly” handle the pursuits of power, wealth, and control, can be found repeatedly within the Bible. Yet many either don’t know or understand God’s guidance, or they choose to ignore His word on how to handle these temptations and or wants and desires. Power alone comes from God, yet many seek and achieve power, they think, based on a worldly view, job, or political position, without ever seeking or acknowledging God’s role in their good fortune. The Apostle Luke wrote of God’s displeasure with the Pharisees, the supposed religious leaders of the time, because they acted as if they were men of God and they flaunted their wealth acting as if, and believing that, their wealth was a sign of God’s approval of them as powerful leaders. Yet God knew what was really in their hearts and that they were filled more with the love of power and authority than truly honoring God with their words and deeds. So, God conveyed through Luke the message that is written in Luke 16:15; “And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”

Wealth can be an equal trap to power which is why the two are often joined at the hip, as they say. In fact, one of the most popular …AND…misquoted phrases from the Bible is that ‘money is the root of all evil.’ Yes, this is grossly misquoted and misused quite often today. When the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and young church leaders, in 1Timothy 6:6-10, he actually said: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Jesus himself also stated, as he described to his Disciples in the parable of the shrewd manager, that: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” [Luke 16:13]

As for Control and influence, they are usually sought after by those who also seek power and money and all of these go hand in hand. Trying to control everything clearly gets stressful after a while, but if we ask God to take control and release us from our anxieties, He will answer. The Apostle Paul told us in his letter to the church in Philippi: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Many who seek control and influence, firmly believe that they are in charge of their life. If they do everything their way, then everything will go right. What they don’t realize is that they only have “very little” control and that the road map of their life is in the hands of God. That they are essentially just sitting idly in the backseat, of their life’s plan, as God takes them exactly where they are supposed to go. It's a hard concept to understand, and it's even harder to accept. But the Lord wants us to know that His plan is a perfect one, even when it doesn't seem that way. The lives they have lived, those past years, were planned even before God created the planets and the stars. The Lord knows all - past, present and future - and He only wants the absolute best for His children. God wants us to give it all up to Him, so that He can have the glory He deserves. And that glory will radiate through you, so that others may see the happiness that is possible in Him. Yes, we have free will and thus some control, but when you let Him have total control, life will become an even more beautiful journey. All we have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. The Apostle Paul explains this in his letters to the Christians in Rome. He explains in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. When control is given up to God, only good things will come to us. Even when something seems devastating, it will come together for good.”

When we first understand that our lives are about love, grace, and fellow-ship, and also understand that all true power and control is God’s alone, then we can best make decisions on how to best handle these challenges in our lives. This isn’t to say that these things alone are bad; certainly, we all have some semblance of power, control, and relative wealth, in our lives. But we need not seek these things out nor make them our life’s pursuit. It was once said that “money cannot buy you happiness” and there is certainly a plethora of people who will chime in on this point, and certainly a fair share of jokes about this quote! However, when you look back through history and truly study wealth and those who have amassed significant wealth, you will be amazed to hear what they have said as the reached the last few days of their lives. One example is from hugely successful Reggae musician Bob Marley (net worth =$32Million) who’s final words were: “Money can’t buy you life,” which he uttered just before dying of cancer at age 36. Most people certainly know of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was worth $10.2 Billion when he died at age 56. There is certainly some debate about whether or not these words are truly authentic, but someone certainly said, or at least wrote, them. My personal opinion is that these are the final words of Steve Jobs, because I feel the family is certainly motivated to say they are not. Regardless, these final written words were published on LinkedIn in 2015, and can be found at the end of this post in Appendix 1. However, Mr. Jobs, or someone else, clearly proclaimed the following about money in these final words: “Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.”

Yes, these people with money certainly had more “things,” but those things caused them more troubles and misery. Yes, money is needed to a certain extent to live in this world, but there are far more studies than not, that show that wealth is all relative to one’s true pursuit of meaningful life.

The Bible, the true Word of God and His Son Jesus Christ, has everything you will ever need to no about how to properly prepare for, and live, a meaningful life. As you see from Steve Jobs mention of God’s Word. Yes, the Bible can be a tough read at times, but where else can you find the true Word of our living, loving and caring God, and with all the various Bible translations that we now have, it makes understanding God’s Word far more interesting and easier.

In closing, power is fleeting. Control comes and goes, and the pursuit, and love, of money is the root of all evil. One only has to study those who have used and abused these ambitions to understand what these things did to their lives. But with and through God, we have all that we need. In about 55 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote several letters to the church in Corinth. A church that had fallen to many corrupt and evil ways, most of which occurred due to this battle for power, control, and wealth, and many horrible things were happening to them including thousands of their members dying. Paul expressed to them the evil of their ways and that they had opted for a dead-end path, even though they did not yet realize it. Paul told them: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We need to remind ourselves, every waking moment, of every day; that God loves us-this never changes. He will never leave us nor forsake us. So, if you truly feel you need to seek power, wealth, and control, then look to God, pray to God, read God’s word, and you will see that He will give you everything you “TRULY” need. Some of the things he may grant you may include some level of power, wealth, and control…AND WHAT HE MAY GRANT YOU MAY NOT include these things. But He will grant you want you “TRULY” need…WHY…because all power, wealth, and control, comes from God alone, and we can never achieve any of these things without God’s blessing. But not following knowing and God’s word – that my friend is a “TRUE” dead-end street!!!

Appendix 1: A Wealthy Billionaire’s Last Words – Reportedly from Steve Jobs; Co-Founder of Apple:

“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of God of death drawing closer…

Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…

Should be something that is more important:

Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days

Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.

That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.

Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.

What is the most expensive bed in the world? Sick bed…

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.

Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – Life.

When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – Book of Healthy Life.

Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends.

Treat yourself well. Cherish others.

Wealth includes wellbeing, he who thinks otherwise is very poor and spent life in illusions.”

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