Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Treasure (No Man Is A) Island

It was reported this week that Bill Gates has carried the title of “Richest American” for the 11th consecutive year. Only the Atlanta Braves, now about to win their 14th straight Division title have a longer streak of being “#1”. I’m cheering a lot more for the Braves than for Bill.
And this isn’t due to his being rich, and my being comparatively poor. I can’t even afford sour grapes. I enjoy writing at a keyboard, posting to a blog, neither of which would have been possible if Bill hadn’t been successful in monopolizing and standardizing the computer industry. I benefit, we all benefit from his success, so this isn’t a screed against Bill.
I am richer than Bill Gates. I hope that I am laying up Treasure in Heaven-God judges what my account balance is up there-and that my ERA (Eternal Retirement Account) is well stocked and flourishing. I am richer than Bill Gates because all of his wealth is fleeting, temporary, tied to this world. I have no idea whether Bill is a Christian-if so, then he would agree with me that his true treasure is in Heaven, and this that we play with here is ‘Monopoly Money’ (Am I once again too hip for the room?)
Let me restate this: If Bill Gates trusts to his money and worldly treasure to protect him, keep him secure and happy, THEN I am richer than Bill Gates. If he trusts in God, then we are tied.
Let me share about my Uncle Ralph. Uncle Ralph, as we used to call him, owned the company that I worked for in Las Vegas for 6 and 1/2 years. We called him Uncle Ralph as everyone would love to have a rich uncle, who might, you know, give us a fortune someday, because we are family.
Uncle Ralph had money. He started out poor, built up a construction company, moved to Las Vegas and started buying little chunks of land all over the valley. When someone wanted to build a casino or hotel, they would find that the little corner lot smack dab in the middle of their planned location was owned by Ralph, and they would have to pay his price. With which he bought more little parcels of land, and then a hotel, another hotel/casino, and eventually he was rich.
Uncle Ralph became so rich through his real estate and business savvy that eventually he had more stuff than Solomon. And that’s the thing-he collected stuff, material wealth, millions upon millions of dollars worth of stuff. He built entire warehouse complexes near the airport to house part of his stuff. Airplanes, cars, military equipment, as he was a big WWII fan-anything you can think of as a symbol of wealth, he had entire rooms of. At his main hotel, the Imperial Palace (nice name?) he had an automobile museum to showcase part of his auto collection, which included a side room of over 30 Dusenbergs.
Ralph was rich. Ralph is now dead, and all of the accumulated wealth of his lifetime is now in the hands of others. I don’t know if Ralph ever accepted Christ, but if he did, I’ll see him in Heaven. Maybe we’ll share a laugh about what we used to think treasure was. In this life, if we saw him, we were to acknowledge his presence, but not speak to him or ask him anything-I would have been fired on the spot for being so presumptuous. He actually wanted to fire me once, for making a mistake, but my manager, a tough old bird named Ray, saved me. I always liked Ray, and he is one of the few who could stand up to Ralph and still keep his job.
Bill Gates and Uncle Ralph are/were rich. I am rich, the adopted son of our Father in Heaven. I will come into my inheritance when I am in the Presence of God, where it is of eternal lasting value. Praise God!

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