… To Heaven, Your Eternal Home
About the Guest
Fill in the blank. If only I had ____ I’d be happy. Today on the broadcast, popular author Randy Alcorn, founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries, exposes the illusion that this world is our home and reminds us to store our treasure in heaven, where we’ll one day enjoy it forever.
Fill in the blank. If only I had ____ I’d be happy.
… To Heaven, Your Eternal Home
Bob: All right, be honest for a minute. Have you ever thought to yourself, "If I could just get this one thing, then I'd be happy?"
Here is Randy Alcorn.
Randy: Solomon was one of the few people in all of history who ended up having more money than he had mirages.
So he chased down every mirage, and that's really what the Book of Ecclesiastes is about. He says, "I tried this, I tried this, I did this, I did that, whatever it was, I had it."
He says "I tried this, I tried this. You name it, nobody outdid me in any of these areas, and I was still empty, I was still unfulfilled, and I know that when I die, I'm going to take nothing with me."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 4th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Are there mirages that you have been fooled into thinking are going to bring you happiness? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. We're talking this week about money, about possessions, about eternity. You bring in this guy that kind of feels like one of these drill sergeants, you know, he spanks you and says, "Please, sir, can I have another? Please, sir, can I have another." I've been spanked a little bit over the last couple of days, haven't you?
Dennis: Bob, you shouldn't feel spanked.
Bob: I shouldn't?
Dennis: No! We have a guest on the program, Randy Alcorn. By the way, Randy, welcome back to FamilyLife Today – who admitted here on public radio that the reason he gave to FamilyLife Today was you.
Bob: I understand. After we had a good laugh about that.
Randy: I had low blood sugar at the time.
Bob: I've just been challenged …
Dennis: I have, too.
Bob: … by what we've talked about the last few days, and I think all of us are challenged. We live in a culture, Dennis, where to talk about being aggressive givers is counter-cultural.
Dennis: It is, and Randy Alcorn has written a book that's a counter-cultural book called "The Treasure Principle." You know, we began each of these broadcasts with a disclaimer. On the first day, I had a disclaimer as the host of the FamilyLife Today saying something of a disclaimer, being the leader of a nonprofit ministry …
Bob: Mm-hm, we're not talking about giving.
Dennis: Yeah, right. Bob did it yesterday, and I'm going to give it to our guest on the program, Randy Alcorn, who also leads a nonprofit ministry. Give our listeners a little bit of a disclaimer here as to what our motive is in challenging folks to consider increasing their giving.
Randy: Well, I think it's for the same reason that it was okay for Paul to say what he said in Philippians 4:17 where he's talking about giving, he's spanking them for their gifts, but he wants to make something very clear. He says, "Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account."
In other words, what Paul is saying is "God is going to take care of me, one way or the other. Absolutely trust that He is going to do that." But you have an opportunity to invest, and it is going to be credited to your account. So when we become Christians an account is opened for us in heaven. We don't earn our way to heaven, that's purely by the shed blood of Christ, but once we receive that gift, God values our works that we do as an investment in eternity, and He has an account open for us, and we can deposit to that account.
We do that every day when we use our time well for God, or when we spend time in the Word and in prayer, when we share our faith, when we love our children, when we change our children's diapers, when we do things that are acts of love for others and, certainly, specifically, when we give because that's exactly what he's talking about here – it's credited to our account in heaven.
And Jesus said, "You know, I'm not going to overlook so much as a single cup of cold water that you've given one of these little ones in My name." And so God is keeping track and therefore it is genuinely, and this is not – it may sound like it's insincere because it's a radical thought to a lot of people, but it's genuinely true that by encouraging people to give, we are encouraging them to do that which is ultimately in their best interest. It's not only to the glory of God, it's not only for the good of others, it's not only for the good of a ministry, but it is truly for their good.
Dennis: And if you think our motives are suspect, then give somewhere else, okay? But find a place to give. I just have to add this word of testimony to what you're talking about – I have known couples who have begun to aggressively give, Randy, and I have watched them grow, I mean, take off.
Where a couple begins to grasp this eternal perspective, where my home is not here on earth, but it's in heaven, and they begin to invest in heaven and send it on ahead, it begins to change where their heart is, the way they view life, the way they view their children, their family, the whole concept of legacy. I mean, there are so many things, Bob, wrapped up in the concept of giving, because it is a measurement of where our heart is, but it is also a challenge to put our heart in the right place.
Bob: I have had the opportunity this fall at our church to be teaching Sunday school class, and I've been teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes, and in Ecclesiastes chapter 2, Solomon says, "Let me give a word of testimony. I had all the money you'd ever want. In fact," he said, "I had so much money that anything my heart desired, I did not deny myself that thing."
Randy: Exactly. We have these mirages, these illusions, that somehow we think that if only we have enough money that we can find fulfillment, that we'll really be happy if we buy this, if we buy that, and so we spend our life using money to chase our mirages.
But Solomon was one of the few people in all of history who ended up having more money than he had mirages. So he chased down every mirage, and that's really what the Book of Ecclesiastes is about. He says, "I tried this, I tried this, I did this, I did that. You name it, whatever it was, I had it. Nobody outdid me in any of these areas, and I was still empty, I was still unfulfilled, and I know that when I die I am going to take nothing with me."
Many of us are still chasing those mirages with our money, and we may never run out of mirages, and we may die because we didn't have enough money to find out what Solomon found out, which is if you had it all it wouldn't satisfy you.
Dennis: But, Randy, as we are chasing these mirages, what I believe Jesus Christ is trying to have us become convinced of – He wants us to live under conviction; that our home is not here, but we have a citizenship in another land, in another place, and we need to be living as citizens that represent that other country.
Randy: That's right. We are, according to Scripture, aliens, pilgrims, strangers. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are ambassadors for Christ. What is an ambassador? It's somebody just living in a foreign land representing his true king and the values of that kingdom.
And if, as ambassadors, we end up in this other land, and we end up just absorbing ourselves into it and taking on the values of that culture, we get to the point where we can no longer effectively represent our true country. And I think that's what happens to us when we forget that heaven is our home.
I really think it's true, as it relates to this area of giving, that the single greatest deterrent to giving is the illusion that this world is our home. We need to realize that heaven is our home; the carpenter from Nazareth has gone to prepare a place for us; and we are going to be with Him for all eternity in that place.
He has some attributes that come in very handy in a building project – omniscience, omnipotence, you know, this is going to be something, you know, people talk about their dream houses. In Portland, there is, every year, and I'm sure in other cities, similar things, something called "Street of Dreams," where there are all these new houses that are being built, and people come and look at these, and you think, "Well, you know what?" I think when I look at those houses, these are nice-looking houses, but wouldn't it be sad if your dreams were limited to buildings like this that are going to burn, anyway?
And one time a couple in our church came and said, you know, we've had this dream of building this house out in the country, and you're talking about giving, but we really feel like, "Gee, we can't give if we're going to pursue this dream of building this house, because it's taking all of our money. What do you think? Is this dream from the Lord or not?" And I think God gave me the words to say to them – "You know, I think this dream for a wonderful place is truly from God. God has given you this desire for a dream house," and they looked at me kind of surprised, that wasn't the answer they expected.
And I said, "The problem is, we can't build that dream house on earth. He has gone to build that dream house for us in heaven. And the great thing is we can, through giving, use the opportunities that we have now, the resources that are God's resources entrusted to us to, in essence, send on building materials ahead for Him to be building that dream house for us in heaven."
Dennis: Yeah, and one of the fun things, Randy, that I've shared here on the program more than once, is that Jesus has been gone building a house for us now 2,000 years, and everything that we see He built in six days. So it's going to be a nice place.
Dennis: I mean, He is really building quite a spot for us. One of the things you point out in your book, "The Treasure Principle," is that our citizenship really determines how we view those things we acquire, the things we possess and value in our lifetimes.
Randy: That's right. One of the analogies I use in the book is – suppose you were a citizen of France, and you're living in America for 90 days, but there are some ground rules. In those 90 days, you can work, you can earn money, and you can wire them back to your home in France – back to your bank in France. But you cannot take any possessions with you or any money with you back to France when your time comes to go home.
Now, how would that affect your decoration of the hotel, for instance? You're staying in a hotel room, and you're only going to be there for 90 days. Well, are you going to buy extravagant works of art and hang them on the wall? Well, you know, certainly, you could justify having some nice, esthetic little things to help you get through this 90 days and have your life be pleasant, but you're certainly not going to invest large amounts of money that you can't take with you and in possessions that you can't take with you.
So what you're going to do is you're going to send it on ahead. You're going to send it back to France. That's your true home. You're going back to France after this 90 days, and we are on earth for maybe 90 years or 60 years or 30 years or whatever it is, we don't know. But we know in terms of eternity, it's a very short period of time. We are all here on short-term visas. They are going to expire very soon.
And so it doesn't make sense for us to lay up for ourselves these treasures on earth instead of in heaven. Let's turn around and lay them up in heaven, because the person who stores up for himself treasures on earth, every day of his life he's headed away from those treasures, and the person who stores up his treasures in heaven every day of his life is headed toward his treasures.
Now, isn't it a lot better to spend your life headed toward your treasures rather than headed away from them?
Dennis: One of our problems is that we've not been to heaven like we would have been from France, and so what we're dependent upon is this book – the Bible.
Randy: That's right, exactly.
Dennis: To tell us what France is like. There is another principle that you teach in your book that says that the antidote for materialism is giving. Explain what you mean by that.
Randy: I mean that we all realize that we are easily held captive to materialism. I think most people would say that, yeah, we tend to have money and things mean too much to us. Okay, but what can we do about that? Well, anytime we make a decision to give, we are going counter-culture, we are going against the god, the idol, of materialism because we are saying, "I am not going to let you control my life. I am going to do that which is against you. I am going to give it away, and when I give it away, I have freedom, and now I am no longer investing in earth, I am investing in heaven, and that frees me. And I think freedom is one of the great joys of giving."
Materialism is an idol, it's a false god, and Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money. And I think what we have to do is develop this new mindset that we are God's servants, He is the owner, we are the stewards, and He entrusts to us not simply so that we'll keep it but so that we'll pass it on to those who need it.
An analogy I use is like the FedEx guy. You know, the FedEx guy comes to your door, and you give him a package. What would you think if you found out that all this time you were giving packages to the FedEx guy, he was taking them home, and he was opening them up, and he was keeping them himself? You know, you'd confront the guy, and you'd say, "Now, wait a minute, what are you doing?" And what if he looked at you and said, "Hey, if you didn't want me to keep those things, you shouldn't have given them to me in the first place."
You'd say, "No, you don't understand who you are. You're the FedEx guy. You're not supposed to keep it." Well, what makes us think that just because God has given us all these things or put all of these things into our hands, that He intends for us to keep them?
There is a world of need out there. There are people who need to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are families that need to be healed, there are children who need to be fed. We have been entrusted with these things not simply so that we'll hold onto them. Of course, we spend some on our families, we need to do that, that's right to do that. Let's sit down with our families and determine how we can model for ourselves, our children, our churches, our community, what it really means to be God's messengers, God's delivery boys and delivery girls who are here as His errand boys and girls to do His bidding; to do what He's called us to do.
My wife and I are tennis fans, and when we saw Wimbledon this year, I was thinking, "You know what? They never interview the ball boys and the ball girls," because they're out there on center court, but they're not what it's about. And that's how it is with us. We're not what it's about, it's about Him not us, but what a joy. The expressions on the faces of those kids to be so close to the action, to be God's ball girls and ball boys, that is a high calling, and that's what we are.
Bob: I want to know from both of you what you think would happen if the church today developed the kind of aggressive giving mindset that you're talking about. Let's say that somehow these three days of talking about this on the radio caught fire, and people passed out CDs with these programs on them in their church, and the shared it with everybody, and people said, "That's right," and, all of a sudden, ministries just started getting flooded with money, and churches just had more than they – what do you think would happen?
Dennis: You go first, because I have a couple of thoughts here.
Randy: You can give the rebuttal.
Dennis: No, that's all right.
Randy: No, I'll tell you, I think it would be revolutionary. I just think it would change every aspect of our lives. It's not only in terms of what could be done with the Great Commission and feeding the poor and the hungry and helping needy families and prison ministries and translation work and radio ministries and a thousand other things. It's what changes would take place in the rest of our spiritual lives. If we are this kind of people, we are going to be reaching our neighbors for Christ, because they are going to see the radical difference in us like they saw the radical difference in the Christians and Acts 2 and Acts 4, whose spiritual transformation was manifested in their transformed attitude and actions concerning money and possessions.
Dennis: As I was thinking about it, Bob, I was thinking that individuals, married couples, families, and entire churches would have to reconsider their purpose, because I think, all of a sudden, the church would have much more money than it ever could possibly spend. And so it would have to pull back and take a look at its community, the needs of people in its community, and as a result we, as its members, would have to get engaged probably in sections of our communities and needy areas of our towns that would demand not merely money but a servant spirit, getting involved to make sure it go spent appropriately, and I think, as a result, I think the Gospel would be preached to the four corners of the earth. I think we would look at our communities different, we would look at the world definitely, and we would, all of a sudden, have to have some serious meetings to consider how we're going to spend the billions and billions of dollars to reach the world for the Great Commission.
Bob: Well, I have to think when you sat down and finished the manuscript for "The Treasure Principle," when you sent it off to the publisher, part of the prayer was that God might somehow take the message of this book and do just that with it – explode it out there, and that it would catch fire in the heart of God's people.
Randy: That's right, and I think there's no greater joy than giving because it's participating in God's giving to us and sharing God's grace with others. That's why it's called in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, "the grace of giving."
Dennis: Wouldn't it be interesting to get a letter from a pastor or a number of pastors in a community who said, "You know what? Something phenomenal is going on here. We have more money than we can possibly spend because God's people are out giving the churches' ability to give it away." Wouldn't that be an interesting – I don't think I've ever heard of such a matter.
Bob: I remember hearing about one church where there was a stirring among the congregation for people to move into smaller houses. Maybe you've heard of this happening in other places, where people were looking around and going, "We've got more house than we need. Let's downsize, and we'll give the money to the Lord's work." And some pretty revolutionary things started happening in that kind of a scenario, and one of the things we decided, as a ministry, was that we wanted to take these three days of the broadcast that we've had with Randy, and if you want a CD of all three days of our visit with Randy, call us, and we'll send it to you at no charge, because we'd like to see tens of thousands of people get Randy's book, get the CD, listen to it, pass it around, share it with others. Let's see if we can't get a little something going here, huh?
Dennis: Really, this concept is much bigger than a ministry. I mean, I mean, really – Randy leads a ministry, we have a ministry here at FamilyLife, we're talking about something that is God's work on this planet, which transcends borders of nations, transcends denominations, names of ministries, churches, we're talking about what God's up to, and I'd just encourage folks to be a revolutionary, as Randy has encouraged them to be.
And, Randy, I want to thank you for being a revolutionary and for writing this book and for being courageous enough to put it in print. I have to believe that writing about giving was a bit of a challenge for you, personally, to kind of go on record as taking a stand here with "The Treasury Principle," but I think I speak for many of our listening audience and saying thank you for your hard work here.
Randy: Well, thank you Dennis and Bob, for FamilyLife Today, what you do here, and it's something I certainly believe in, and, like you, pray that hearts would be moved toward giving not only for the good that can be done for the world, though that's certainly right up there, not only for the glory of God, though, that's always the highest goal.
But also for their own good and for their children's good, so that the children can see in their parents what it means to break away from materialism and what it means to really experience the joy of giving.
Bob: You had to stop when you wrote this book and think to yourself, "Someday I'm going to be in the Best Buy, and I'm going to be buying a big screen TV, and the guy is going to go, "Wait, aren't you the guy that wrote that – the name's on the credit card. It's Randy Alcorn. You wrote that book on "Treasure Principle," didn't you? Did that ever cross your mind?
Randy: Not until now, Bob.
Bob: A little accountability right here.
Randy: But, you know, you've mentioned many things that had never crossed my mind.
Bob: We have – we'll just let that one go. We have copies of Randy's book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
Dennis: It's been a while since we've had a guest on FamilyLife Today that has sparred so vigorously with Mr. Lepine.
Bob: We also want to make available to you the CD that I mentioned that features this three-day conversation with Randy Alcorn, and we are happy to send that to you upon request. You can simply go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and say, "I want that CD," and we'll send it out to you. Click on the right side of the home page where it says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to an area of the site where you'll find more information about Randy's book and about how you can request the CD.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. You can also call us to purchase a copy of the book or to request the CD. Our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY. Now, because it's the Fourth of July holiday here in the United States, we've got nobody answering the phones today, but if you want to contact us over the weekend or next week and request the CD or order a copy of Randy's book, you can again do that at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
And, with that, we've got to wrap things up for this week. I hope you have a great Fourth of July holiday for those of you listening here in the United States, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we're going to take a summertime visit to Alaska. Rocky McElveen is going to be here, and we're going to hear from him about some of the adventures he has had as a guide taking people hunting and fishing and touring around Alaska. And I hope you can join us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend, we'll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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