From Rags to Riches… To Rags Again [Part 2/2]

What would happen if we hold the “three generations theory” up to Biblical illumination? Let’s find out. The main thing to remember as we dissect this theory to find out what the Bible says about it is to whittle the three parts down into a “researchable chunk”. Let’s take the first part of the theory:

THEORY (1/3): The FIRST generation works hard to achieve wealth.

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (ESV)

The English Standard Version (ESV) says this verse so pretty. Check out the New Living Translation version.

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (NLT)

So this verse is pretty straight forward. Do nothing, get nothing. Do something, get something. The FIRST generation has this concept of “hard workers get rich” and this is where our “three generations theory” cycle begins.

THEORY (2/3): The SECOND generation reaps the benefits of the first generation, but loses the work ethic.

For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. -Proverbs 1:32 (NLT)

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! -Revelation 2:4 (NLT)

The Proverbs scripture is another one of those straight forward and to the point thoughts, but I don’t want you to miss the Revelation scripture. Let’s read it in context (and pay careful attention to how it fits in with SECOND generation complacency):

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

-Revelation 2:1-7 (NLT)

Doesn’t this letter sound like it’s written to a church that “gets it” BUT could lose it because their love at the beginning has, over time, decreased. “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” is a hard pill to swallow, but in this passage there is a way to get back to where things need to be: “Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”

So, in essence, the SECOND generation is a DECISIONAL generation. They could never do what the FIRST generation did as far as “establishing a vision”, but if they don’t maintain the love and zeal that the FIRST generation had, that will lead to the “destruction of the original vision” in the THIRD generation.

THEORY (3/3): The THIRD generation squaders, spends, consumes the wealth with no concept of working for it.

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. -Proverbs 10:4 (NLT)

So we’re back at the Proverbs 10:4 scripture yet again because it is one of those complete thoughts. Do nothing, get nothing. Do something, get something. The unfortunate part about THIRD generation mentality is that if they consume all of the FIRST generation money, they’ll have to go to “Part the First”… WORK (and more than likely, not work that their family originally established… just working a 9-5). For a generation that doesn’t understand WORK or “the value of a dollar”, that’s going to be a very rude wake up call.

So what is our ultimate conclusion here? In three generations any wealth that has been acquired can be lost. The Bible backs that up. So what are we to do? Perhaps if we were to visualize it, we could think of it like this:


The bottom line is simply this: KEEP WORKING. If you’re working to establish a vision KEEP WORKING. If you’re working to maintain a vision KEEP WORKING. Even if you haven’t achieved all of your goals KEEP WORKING. As long as you you’re working, God can continue to work through you. When you get complacent or give up is when you run into THIRD generation trouble.

On a personal note, it’s interesting that most of the verses related to the “three generations theory” are found in Proverbs, the Biblical book of wisdom. What that tells me, in addition to everything that’s already been mentioned, is that a wise man continues to work hard and a fool lets it all fall apart.

Don’t be foolish.


From Rags to Riches… To Rags Again [Part 1/2]

I know it’s December and I promise to get to the ooey gooey Christmas bloggy goodness, but this has been on my mind recently and I decided to do a little research on it. I either read or heard a while back that “the third generation loses what the first generation worked so hard to build”. Couldn’t tell you where I read or heard it, but it stuck out in my mind so much that I had to research it and check it for myself to see if there was any validity to it.

So I started with a simple search that went like this:

“1st generation works, 2nd generation maintains, 3rd generation is spoiled”

That lead me to and an article written by Douglas Tong titled “From the Teacher’s Corner 24: Three Generations”. There Mr. Tong explains the very thing I’ve been looking for in great detail.

For the full article, please go to:

The actual proverb is a Chinese proverb that says:

Fu bu guo san dai
Translated: “Wealth does not pass three generations”

(I don’t speak Chinese so I sure hope that’s what it translates to…)

That has been transliterated into numerous cultures each placing their own spin on it. For example:

“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”
“Rags to riches to rags in three generations”
“Clogs to clogs”
“Kimono to Kimono”
“Rice paddy to rice paddy”

You get the picture. The general theory of these sayings go like this:

The FIRST generation:

Works hard to achieve wealth.

The SECOND generation:

Reaps the benefits of the first generation, but loses the work ethic.

The THIRD generation:

Squaders, spends, consumes the wealth with no concept of working for it.

Pretty clear cut, right? Not to mention a pretty vicious cycle (if you find yourself on the wrong side of this cycle). This “three generations theory” is well known around the world and throughout time. From my research, it looks like it’s been the underlying cause of the destruction of families, businesses, kingdoms, and empires.

But what might we find if we hold this theory up to Biblical illumination?

Only Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

On my desk at work I have a daily Bible devotional titled “God’s Way Day by Day” by Dr. Charles Stanley. I hadn’t updated it in a while so yesterday morning I flipped from September 2nd (when I last updated it) to September 9th and what I read there touched my heart. Therefore, I thought I’d share it with you:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

Anytime you feel inadequate, go to God and say, “I feel inadequate. I’m trusting You to be my adequacy.” If you feel ignorant, trust God to be your source of wisdom. If you feel yourself totally without adequate resources, trust God to provide what you need.

Powerful stuff that we can all relate to. Truth be told, none of us are or will ever be at a place where we can handle every single thing that life throws at us. If we had that capability, then we wouldn’t need God. But we do need God. I need God. You need God. We all need God. Therefore, don’t be afraid to tap into the strength provided through Christ.

I heard an old preacher say one time, “When you allow God to put his SUPER on your NATURAL, watch how great things happen.”

Church Is NOT A Hospital [Part 3/3]

DISCLAIMER: Before you read this, just know that I’m a Bible reader/believer, NOT a theologian. Therefore, these are only my internal thoughts. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I went to and did a keyword search for “Jesus” and “heal” and found about 16-17 references (depending on the version that you use) of Jesus healing somebody. The common event of all of those healings is that NOBODY who was healed by Jesus suffered a relapse.

Jesus would be considered a “hospital emptier”.

Additionally, there was another common event of all those healings. Jesus addressed the condition of the heart (mind, will, and emotions) before any healing took place. To me, that indicates that a spiritual healing had to happen before a physical healing could happen AND that one could not occur without the other (where Jesus was concerned).

So what does that mean?

If a hospital is in place to heal your physical body, then the church (in the context of healing) is in place to deal with the condition of your heart. Hospitals can’t do both. Churches can’t do both. I’m convinced that they can work in conjunction with one another, but neither institution is the “Wal-Mart” of total healing.

Now is that to say that God can’t perform healing miracles in the church? OF COURSE NOT! God can heal you on the spot wherever you are and doesn’t need the four walls of a church OR a hospital to do it (just keep in mind that the condition of your heart and the condition of your body are constantly linked).

But to say that “The church is like a hospital… sick people come here to get healed” is a false statement. Why?

Because the purpose of the church is to carry out the Great Commission:

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

So we see here that the church is definitely NOT a hospital because the purpose of the church is much higher than JUST fixing a runny nose or a broken leg. The purpose of the church is to equip the saints to “go out and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them”.

Bottom line: I think it’s time to delete this “church/hospital” phrase from our religious lexicon, call a thing a thing, and treat each institution with the purpose that it was originally designed for. A hospital is a hospital. A church is a church. Done and done.

Also, the church is not a bank, but that’s a blog for another time.

[Thanks SENIOR for the inspiration to write this 3-part blog series. I look forward to our next discussion.]

Church Is NOT A Hospital [Part 2/3]

Let’s talk definitions and who better to talk definitions with than the word master himself… Webster (as in “Webster’s Dictionary”).

CHURCH (noun)

1: a building for public and especially Christian worship
2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
3: often capitalized: a body or organization of religious believers

…and now…


1: a charitable institution for the needy, aged, infirm, or young
2: an institution where the sick or injured are given medical or surgical care
3: a repair shop for specified small objects (a clock hospital)

If you look at these two definitions for what they are as they are written, we can clearly see that they are NOT the same. In fact, nowhere in either definition do we even come close to making the connection that these two institutions are the same. So how do we get to rhetorical statements like:

“The church is like a hospital. Sick people come here to get healed.”

SENIOR (to find out who SENIOR is, please read the last blog) told me that (paraphrased) “No one wants to be in a hospital all their life” and with these definitions in mind, that makes a lot of sense. Needy. Aged. Infirmed. Sick. Injured. Where I live we have a non-emergency healthcare facility called “Patient First” (or as I loving call it “Doc-In-A-Box”) and if you’ve ever been there (or any facility like it) then you know the feeling you get when you’re sitting in the waiting room and everybody around you is coughing, sneezing, blowing their noses, running back and forth to the bathroom, moaning, groaning, in pain, so on and so forth. Let’s throw two scenarios into play:

SCENARIO #1: You are sitting in our “waiting room of contagious co-pays” and you’re not even sick/injured. You’re there for a physical (but probably worried that you might get sick).

SCENARIO #2: You are sitting in our “waiting room of contagious co-pays” and you actually ARE sick/injured.

Do you have those two visuals in your head? Good. So tell me this:

After the nurse calls you to the back, the doctor diagnoses you, you get your medicine, and go home to recover with meds, fluids, and rest, AT WHAT POINT AFTER YOU HAVE RECOVERED do you go BACK to your non-emergency healthcare facility just to say “Wzup?” to the doctors and hang out with the nurses for lunch?

I would imagine none of you would… at least until the next time you get sick or injured.

The purpose of a hospital is to repair (to the best of the doctors’ knowledge) your physical body and the ailments thereof. There’s no spiritual healing whatsoever, only physical. In fact, if you never got sick or injured, there would be no need for doctors OR hospitals. Therefore, we can conclude from this that the hospital is definitely NOT a church (although there is a small chapel tucked away in a corner on the first floor of every hopsital)…

Yet we continue to conclude that the church IS a like a hospital???

Stay tuned…

Church Is NOT A Hospital [Part 1/3]


If you clicked on this particular blog, then that must mean that you are familiar with the phrase associated with the blog title. However, just in case you’re not, the phrase goes a little something like this:

“The church is like a hospital. Sick people come here to get healed.”


Well, perhaps not… and here’s why in a neat little 3-part blog series…

On Sunday, 7/20/2014, my wife and I were named as Godparents to the child of family friends (aka “framily”) of ours. Afterwards, we went out to dinner to celebrate with the family and I ended up sitting beside my Godson’s grandfather (to which I will refer to as SENIOR for the remainder of this blog series). As we were talking, joking, and cutting up, we started on the subject of the difficulty of ministry for ministry leaders and other church related subjects. The conversation eventually led to me saying the phrase “the church is like a hospital” to which SENIOR replied (paraphrased):

“That’s a bad analogy. The church is not like a hospital. Think about those who have been in the church all their life. Who wants to say ‘I’ve been in the hospital all my life?’ Besides, you VISIT hospitals. You don’t go to stay.”

Simply put, that blew my mind. Being that I am a person of research who likes learning the “Why?” behind why people believe what they believe, I wanted to dig a little deeper into this one to see SENIOR’s point of view (beyond the obvious point of a physical church building is nothing like a physical hospital building). The one thing that I do know (as a good ol’ Baptist church boy born and bred) is that so often we hear phrases in the church and just wholeheartedly accept and regurgitate it without really thinking about the impact of the actual meaning. That alone was enough to make me want to dig into SENIOR’s statement, but I really had to process what SENIOR said in my head for a while before I could even write this blog because here in lies the dilemma:

On the one hand, we consistently hear that the church is like a hospital in the sense that you can get healed either physically, spiritually, or both.

On the other hand, if you think about what a hospital actually is and it’s function, is it right to compare the church to a hospital (whether physically, spiritually, or both)?

Are you thinking? Do you feel your brain juices percolating? Do you feel like your religious rhetoric is being challenged? I know mine was.

Stay tuned…

Purpose By God’s Design

On my birthday earlier this year, a choir that I work with gave me the gift of a Dr. Charles Stanley daily devotional desk calendar. I flipped to the devotional for June 9th and it encouraged me so much that I thought I would share it with you today. Check it out below and enjoy!

Do not neglect the gift that is in you. -1 Timothy 4:14a

At the time you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, God gave you certain spiritual gifts to use in ministry to others. The way in which you express those gifts is uniquely linked to the talents He has given you and the skills He has helped you develop. Nobody… on the earth… is just like you, not even a sibling who is your twin…. You are a unique and very special creation of God, designed for a particular purpose on this earth that God has had in mind from eternity past. Accept who God made you to be!